Thursday, 22 November 2007

Ref goes free while addicks get fined

Following the fracas in humberside the FA have fined Charlton and Hull, but of course the real culprit, the referee gets off scot free. If he had not ost control of the game then maybe the incident could have been avoided.

Being a Charlton fan its quite fun already having been fined £21,000 for indiscipline this season. Never happened in Curbs time.

McClaren the let down?

So 13 years after we failed to get to the World cup finals Scott Carson and McClaren fail to get us to the European Championships. OK its a bit harsh to blame Charlton’s latest player of the season, after all qualification is over a series of games and Scott only played in one, the last. I feel Scott is a modern day Peter Bonetti, plunged into the heat of a major tournament (in Bonetti’s case literally) with inadequate preparation and as a result disaster struck. Bonetti paid with his international career, hopefully Scott will live to fight another day.

So if it was not Scott’s fault was it all McClaren. He is reputably a great coach, but an average manager and the England job just is not the role from which a manger can develop, you have to be good when you get there. McClaren was not ready and number two’s do not always, if ever make good number ones, just ask Les Reed.

So I ask again was it McClarens fault, not really, there are many factors.

McClaren was the backroom boy of Sven and as Sven left the job of England manager under a cloud, it was always going to be the case that McClaren would be tainted by the same brush. His credibility was not enhanced by the late intervention of David Dein, rushing to Portugal for the signature of Scholari or by Brian Barwicks ridiculous claims that he was first choice. But McClaren cannot be blamed for having ambitions of being number one, but the FA can be blamed for not curbing his ambition.

The FA made the mistake, often made in business by managers, wanting to fill a place to the timetable, even when the candidate was not there. They did not want the press on their back, well they have them there now. They wanted the best, but their candidate list did not include the best (after Scholari ducked out) so instead of going back to the market to find the best, they accepted a choice from what they had – McClaren, Allardyce or Curbishley. And of those three on paper McClaren had the best rep. That though does not make him good enough. Today’s sacking of McClaren was decisive and it is years since that word and the FA have gone together – decisive clear cut and focussed, exactly what they failed to be when appointing McClaren.

SkySports are contributors to the dearth of English qualifying players in the Prem. You don’t have this problem in other leagues, of foreign players dominating. You cannot blame Sky for paying top dollar (Rouble, Yen, Euro) for the TV rights, now topped up by international TV rights and Satanta, but it is that money that is drawing in foreign players. They don’t want to play here in drizzly Britain, in Middlesborough – well not unless you are going to pay them a lot of money and the low end of the salary scale is £20 – 30,000 per week. If there was less money in the game there would, arguably, be fewer foreign players edging English youth out. Of course, the counter argument is that there would be as many foreign players, but all of a lower quality, but if they were of a lower quality then our players would be able to match them and there would be more English player able to develop to a higher level of competence than they do currently, since they spend most of their time in the stiffs.

The EU who will not allow the league to introduce a quota on the number of non English qualifying players and reject any representations from the Premier League.

The Clubs who buy the foreign players and with few exceptions nurture foreign talent even in their academies, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man U are definitely culpable. Why should our leading managers care about England, after all they are a Scot, an Israeli, a Frenchman and a Spaniard. Add to that a Swede, a Welshman, an Irish man and another Scot and the problem grows. If England are out of tournaments, then the few players that are in the first team have the summer to rest.

The Players who could not rouse themselves, who have the skill and the ability, but with so many avenues to glory do not have the heart to fight for the national cause, when they know they can go back to their clubs and fight for European glory, against teams that would match most leading national teams let alone the minnows of Israel, Serbia et al. They have heard the hype, they believed it because they must be good to be paid so much, they just forgot to make it real.

So that’s it, lets lynch McClaren, there is nothing like a good lynching, but the guy was never in with a hope, promoted beyond his capabilities into a system that is built for failure and whoever we get next, well his chances of success are slim, if he pulls it off then he will deserve his knighthood, but if he does not, if he only comes 8th in the world, instead of wining it then, lets hope he is asbestos coated, because he’ll need to be as the lynching party ties him to the stake.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Doomsday or Salvation - the next 12 months

I was talking to a fellow addick yesterday and he suggested that he was enjoying the Championship so much that he would be happy for us to just miss out this year and get promoted in 2008 / 2009. I then decided to paint him the scenario, what I would call the dooms day scenario and as there is nothing else going on Charlton wise, other than our loanees doing particularly well Dickson and James Walker both scoring in the Yeovil Gillingham game, I thought why not bang it out on the blog.

Lets assume that we miss the automatics, but finish third and are drawn to play 6th place Ipswich. Ipswich have only dropped points against Watford and West Brom during the season at home and after the first leg we find ourselves facing a 3-0 deficit. Outplaying Ipswich in the second leg at the Valley, we lead 2-0 with 10 minutes to go and we bombard the Ipswich goal but to no avail and they get a late goal, so it ends 2-1 and we have another exciting year in the Championship to look forward to.

As the players leave the pitch, And Reid shakes Alan Pardews and reminds him that he was promised a premiership move if the addicks failed to go straight up.

Meanwhile, Richard Murray takes a call in the board room, its Randy Lerner from Aston Villa, "Martins taking over the running of your English team after McClaren failed to progress through the 1st round of the Euro's, so we would like like to speak to Alan Purrdoo."

O'Neil takes over at the FA, within a week, Pards enforces his contract get out clause and is announced as the new Villa manager, Murray announces the promotion of Phil Parkinson to First Team Head Coach.

"Phil was always the power behind Alan and we look forward to being in a new tier of football next season." Says Murray.

Meanwhile bids are coming in for ZZ, JT and Ambrose all of whom make it clear that they are too good for the Championship. Murray allocates all of the £4 million received in transfer fees to rebuilding the team. Danny Mills, whose loan from City was extended to the end of the season leaves the Club to join newly promoted Ipswich on a freebie. Izale McLeod is released on a free transfer to recently relegated Milwall and both James Walker and Chris Dickson make up the strike force at Charlton alongside Luke Varney and Chris Iwelumo. Bhougehrra leaves the club to return to Algeria. Kelly Youga replaces the retired Cory Gibbs to compete with Thatcher and Bassey for the left back position.

In his first act Parkinson announces that Paddy McCarthy will be match day captain, whilst Matty Holland takes the club captaincy. Chris Powell relinquishes playing to concentrate on coaching the youngsters as Steve Gritt moves to 3rd division Gillingham as Manager.

Parkinson brings in some promising young players from Millwall and Gillinham to bolster his midfield and to play alongside Semedo, Racon, Holland and Sam. A late bid for Sam from an unknown Premiership team is received but turned down, but Sam is unsettled and does not reproduce his pre season form and eventually is dropped.

Throughout the season, their last with the parachute money, Charlton remain in the top ten, securing a play off place for the 2nd season running, but again falling at the 1st hurdle.

Without the parachute money Murray announces further cuts are going to be required and key players sold. By the middle of the next season Charlton are 15th, six points from the bottom of the table ....

The alternative is that we get immediate promotion, probably through the playoffs. Lakshmi Mittal steel magnet one of the top ten richest men in the world negotiates with Murray to buy the club, siting a great desire for India to be involved in the Premier League. Mittal has been looking for the right club for some time, he is a family man and sees a synergy amongst the values he holds and Murrays. After spending £30 million on his daughters wedding, a £35 million present to his son of a Football Club to run seems only fair. Mittal is also irked by the refusal of Birmingham to have sold to him a year earlier and looks forward to one day playing them and beating them for their insult.

Who knows if either of the above two scenarios will play out, failure to be promoted would be close to disaster and yet promotion could lead to a season long embarrassment, if we were to remain on the current financial footing. Lakshmi Mittal was looking at buying Birmingham and he is very rich, India is developing its football pedigree, from a very low base and recent Premier League Clubs - Man U, Chelsea - have sent delegations to develop the training aspects of the game there and the Indian National Coach is English. Premier League Football is watched by millions live every Saturday ... it could happen and who would complain when we could have bhaji and a pint on the Valley concourse.