Charlton At Home Season 2014/15

One thing that’s different for me this season is taking my son to each home Saturday game. A friend of mine also takes his son from the same station and so we travel over to The Amex together. The night before the game this friend and I had gone out and got rather the worse for wear as I believe they still say in polite circles. Thus we met feeling a little delicate as I also believe they say in polite circles. My friend is ex Royal Navy and explained on the way over that, were we to attempt to ease the delicate feeling with another beer it would have been known on his submarine as “equalizing”. Equalizing turned out to be the theme of the day. Well, that and rollercoasters.

Rollercoasters? As in rollercoaster ride. Ups and downs. Following The Albion has always been one and the current transfer window has been no different. We’d gone from selling our best assets and being jilted at the alter by Sammy Lee, Adam Clayton and Stephen Ward to an influx of seemingly quality signings I was itching to see in the flesh, a turnaround that had taken about three weeks.  My Albion mojo was up and down like a persistent toddler on an over inflated space hopper. Having quickly equalized in the WSU concourse, as we took our seats it was most definitely up. Sadly it only took around five minutes to deflate, another thing in common with a heavy night on the drink.

The West Upper is excellent for seeing shape and tactics. The Boy is learning (very slowly since he takes after me) to play football. Thus I was trying to explain the differences in our shape to him, particularly our high defensive line with Bruno and Bennett pushed right up, when Charlton broke at pace in to exactly the huge gap I was describing. We scrambled back but to no affect as a deft layoff from the excellent Buyens found the equally excellent Vetokele and his shot went through a crowd of players for the opening goal. Stockdale appeared to be wrong footed at full speed and I’ve not yet had the appetite to watch it back to check if he was at fault. No matter. We would be playing catch up again.

That the rest of the first half quickly restored my early damaged hopes, even though we didn’t score, says much about the quality we have brought in and the way Sami wants to use it. We may not yet have agreed on an acceptable pronunciation of Teixeira but we were all agreed he was excellent in the first half. He takes up awkward positions just behind the front players and, in the first half at least, seemed to have the ability to create his own space at will. What I really like is that, if he loses it, he fights back for it immediately. So many skilful players who operate in a free role end up as ‘luxury players’. Portuguese Tex puts in a shift. We look lucky to have landed him. With his help we dominated the rest of the first half in terms of possession, territory and chances. A combination of one piece of great keeping and our inability to fashion a killer final ball meant we did not turn this domination in to a goal.

At half time friend and I agreed that it was only a matter of time before we scored, probably through some Teixeira genius. We just wouldn’t score from a set piece we agreed, due to the lack of height up front. And so it was that on 67 minutes, the minutes’ applause for Tony Langridge, chairman of the REMF who sadly passed away, was started with a cheer as Lewis Dunk headed in from a Danny Holla corner, a route we needed to use because Teixeira was now being closed down and double teamed. Yeah, what do I know?

And that should have been it. The North Stand woke up. The West Stand woke up. All over the park the players looked lifted. Surely now we would take our dominance of the ball and turn Charlton over. Er, no. Instead, in a move I suspect we’ll see quite a bit of this season, the gaps down our flanks were exposed by one more break and we backed off Vetokele who disappointingly scored at the near post. It felt like two shots, two goals for our visitors. Enter Baldock for JFC to complement Colunga and Lua Lua. We were going for it still.

I return to The Boy. He had asked quite early on, when he’d seen Stockdate standing half way between our box and the centre circle, if he ever went up for corners, to which I replied ‘only if we’re really desperate for a goal in a Cup match or something’. The Boy, at seven, is already disgusted with early leavers. ‘The game’s not finished Daddy’ he says. The Boy’s favourite player is Lua Lua. And so, as the Amex evacuated around us with less than a minute of injury time left, we got a corner. Stockdale came up for it and caused mayhem. The loose ball fell to Lua Lua. The Charlton defence seemed mesmerized by the luminous vision scrambling back to his goal and Lua Lua picked out the unmarked Dunk who headed deftly home for his third of the season. Lewis Dunk, top scorer.

The final whistle was greeted by a Charlton player throwing himself to the ground in mock exhaustion and disappointment. Up in the West Upper The Boy and I were still going barmy.

EDIT – I have now forced myself to watch the goals back on iplayer. The deft touch that set up their first was, in fact, off the back of the heels of one of our backtracking defenders, leaving Stockdale unsighted as well as wrong footed. All in all a very unlucky goal. 

Season 2014/15 – Sheffield Wednesday At Home

Here we go again then. The start of a new season. This will be different to last season from a personal point of view as The Boy has his own season ticket with me this season. Mark’s boys are with him too and the six of us have relocated back a couple of rows and across a bit in the WSU. He had been looking forward to the game for days, counting down the sleeps and almost bounced out of the door when it was time to go.

Everything Boy related went swimmingly. We seem to have a train routine established that will allow us to get to the Sports Bar where I can have a quick beer and he can play with his teammates from his football team. In the ground he and Mark’s boys talked among themselves instead of firing off the usual fifty questions (though we later overheard them plotting to “get” the referee after Crofts was sent off, not good for my parent of the year application).

Everything else didn’t. Firstly congratulations to Wednesday. After some extended banter with their fans they were excellent. Big in numbers and voice they backed their team loudly. Their team responded  by winning. Frustrating time wasting and feigned injuries aside they deserved it. We were wretched. Everywhere.

The North Stand still seems split in two. On the few occasions everyone joined in together then the West joined in as well and the noise was tremendous. Sadly this only happened about three times. The rest of the time there seemed to be a competition between the East side and West side. Or just total silence. The fare on the pitch didn’t help.

I wrote this frustration up on NSC last night but it is worth repeating here. Squads should evolve. Ours is regressing. Let’s hope Creationists don’t get a look at a time lapse of our squad over the last three years as it would surely prove their point, setting back over a hundred years of Darwinism.

This is what i put on NSC. It now has 42 thumbs up, my personal record.

When you start with Shamir Fenelon and O’Grady in the Championship where once it was Barnes and Ulloa you are going backwards. When you have to play your reserve right back as a left wing back you are going backwards. When you play another ex-devteam squad player as one of two holding midfielders when his major weakness is tackling you are going backwards. When you no longer have Mathew Upson reading the game and controlling the spine you are going backwards. When your answer to this is to put on an overweight, out of favour player with the pace of a snail on mogadon and who cannot accurately pass a bottle of port you are going backwards.

Harsh maybe but my summary of our weaknesses yesterday. And while some may rage at Crofts’ sending off it needs to be compared to the leniency shown to JFC. For me his first tackle was a straight red whereas Crofts’ was a yellow. Certainly JFC should have seen yellow a second time, taking us to nine men.

How did the new men perform? Stockdale looks a little rusty, missing three kicks to the wingbacks and once being lucky to be fouled as he struggled to reach a cross but otherwise he was fairly untroubled and could do nothing about Coke’s brilliant 42nd minute strike. He will come good after some game time and I will stick my neck out and say he’ll be better than TK’s last season.

Hughes is solid. I will be typing that a lot this season.

O’Grady? Pleasantly surprised. Held it up excellently, made a nuisance of himself and nearly scored. Assuming he is the Barnes replacement then we have done well. But he’s no Ulloa.

To be fair it is not the new additions that worry me. It’s who’s left. A squad of players where the seniors are three years older, three years more tired and cynical and who have gone through three completely different footballing philosophies in as many seasons, bulked out by Dev Squad promotions who, by the nature of these things will be a little green and inconsistent.

Things may gel (but not if we use Calde as a left wing back and Agustien as an impact player). We may make signings before the end of August that stun us (and that fit better in to Hyppia’s sort of 4-2-3-1 with wingbacks). I may be jumping the gun, wetting the bed, whatever. But for me this squad doesn’t just need a few additions. It needs major surgery.

 

Changes

My regular reader will know by now that I don’t do the visual. I write. I’m a writer. Plus I’m a cheapskate so I’m stuck with these cheap* WordPress themes. I would love this to be a blue and white stripy extravaganza that looks as good as it reads and reads like something almost professional. Maybe next season.

*free

Luckily a friend of mine from the Twittersphere, Anthony James aka @seagullsanty, knows how to do the visual and the writy thing and how to talk bloggers, former website owners, ex Albion players and stars of You Tube in to helping him, by clubbing them over the head and holding them in his dungeon until they acquiesce**.

** being really nice to them.

Anthony has therefore used these skillz to set up the magnificent http://www.standorfall1901.com/ and it is here that many of my ramblings will be published this season. Not only does it look much better but it removes the tyranny of blogging every single week from me because, frankly, this season, I’m going to be too busy with real life to do that.

I will update here when I can but I may not every week, When I do I’ve said he can copy it straight over to there too. There will be posts on there that aren’t on here such as my Sheffield Wednesday preview which you should all go away and read now.

In the meantime I’ve thrown you the bone of updating from last year’s free theme to this year’s cheap theme***.

*** still free.

Oh, and as a very unsubtle reminder YOU CAN STILL BUY THE E-BOOK OF LAST SEASON

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brighton-But-Only-At-Home-ebook/dp/B00M1YIPWS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407436783&sr=8-1&keywords=brighton+but+only+at+home