Saturday, 30 October 2010

Rumours of Parky's Demise are Premature

I have always veered on the side of caution on Parky's credentials. He has done well with a generally indifferent squad and little money and his efforts to get replacements in at reasonable prices have not been bad.
I said he needed to get the team to perform in the last 2 games and that a good performance at Carlisle (preferably at least a point or a great fighting performance even if no result) and a spirited win against Sheffield Wednesday would go a long way to answer critics.
Well the team did it, so though he has not won the battle he has certainly improved his position.
It was not all hunky dory today.
I felt he should have selected Fortune but am prepared to say that Doherty turned in a good performance.
A great performance in the first half was thwarted by some plain bad luck and some inspiring goalkeeping from Nicky Weaver in keeping out a couple of blistering shots and more.
However, it seemed that either we dropped into the trap of taking our foot of the gas in the second half to let Sheffield Wednesday threaten and almost steal a point (or more) or we were just plain knackered?
As usual, we laid back too far and worse of all we did not keep tight on their forwards giving them the opportunity to run at us, and with Clinton Morrison they had someone who can do that quite effectively.
Parks had previously admonished the team for doing just this so I can only hope it was a combination of us being knackered and the opposition stepping up the pace. If Park's instructed the team to lay off in the second half then in my view he would lose a lot of kudos. However, I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.
In view of my celebratory drink in Greenwich and meal at London Bridge I am late to the post and have therefore had the opportunity to view other Blog posts.
"Blackheath Addicted" doesn't say much I can disagree with in his excellent player assessment.
The only points I have to add are:
Elliot: good game, but still feel uneasy when high crosses are put in;
Francis: Best game for the club to date;
Doherty: I was hoping that Fortune would play, but after some iffy performances Doherty had a good game;
Fry: good game; got stuck in. I'm still not sure what his best position is; he lacks authority in the middle of the back four, but seems to lack a turn of speed at left back;
Dailly: Can’t fault him; a players’ player, and a great captain;
Jackson: toiled away and held onto the ball well, unlucky to catch Weaver at his best;
Semedo: Good strong tackling holding game; if only he had more confidence to go forward or get something out of threatening positions he finds himself in. He has the skills, but does not have the bottle at the moment;
Racon: Seemed transformed to his best of last season; as Blackheath said, he as even tackling well. Is it fatherhood?! Good news as I thought he was at the beginning of an unstoppable decline in form;
Wagstaff: All enthusiasm and a good goal, but he still does not do enough otherwise and makes some bad errors when we are threatening, as noted by “Blackheath Addicted”;
Anyinsah: we may have found the man to play alongside Benson and bring out the best in him;
Benson:  excellent with his distribution, heading and effort today. Looks a better player alongside Anyinsah. He certainly didn't miss the chance which opened up following Martin's wizardry at the end; it was a great effort just getting there and coming so close;
It really annoyed me how some entries on the web had him written off before he had had time to make an impact, and before the rest of the team had provided him with a reasonable number of opportunities to test his credentials.
Like the elements who want to hang draw and quarter Parks, I hope they too have to eat their words.
Martin: Made a positive impact with his skills almost setti9ng up a goal to seal it for us;
Good job we got these points; Swindon will be difficult but maybe not as difficult as last year. Peterborough will be a stern test.
I'm setting aside the two cup games for now; both could be real banana skins.
After our pre-season fixture, Barnet have little respect for us and with that slope a real potential banana skin.
Let’s get behind the team and give Parks some praise (and lay off him for the time being).

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Benson Barks to give a lifeline to Parks

Well this was the result that Parks needed to keep his survival hopes alive.
On the positive side the team ultimately did not give up on the game and Benson began to justify the faith in the management in their relentless pursuit of his signature.
Although the final fight back demonstrated the spirit that we have been calling for, the side once gain demonstrated to the feint hearted amongst us that a lead of at least 3-0. is required to give us any confidence of holding on.
The selection was in line with Parks’ warnings about changes. Martin was conspicuous by his absence and Wagstaffe somehow clung on to his place and responded by setting up Benson for one of his goals.
Did Doherty do enough to be selected ahead of Fortune; I think not after his shaky game against Brighton. Did he retain his place due to his aerial strengths alone? Maybe he did to combat the Cumbrian’s anticipated assault, but Fortune is no slouch himself in the air.
I suspect the jury is still out with Richard Murray but a win against Sheffield Wednesday ( which needs to be  convincing in terms of spirit, fight and superiority) would place us back in the frame towards the right end of the table and do no harm to Parks’ own position.
Given this result and despite the fragility of it, an away win at Carlisle should not be sniffed at and all those who played their part should be congratulated.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Why not Join the Speculation?

My last posting included the following:
"The question right now is whether something has gone terminally wrong, or if it's a blot on the landscape that some rigorous training and bonding sessions can remedy before the next string of crucial games that will shape the season".
I still veer on the side of giving the management the Carlisle and Sheff' Wednesday games to turn it around, in terms of performance and results and I hope they can do it.
I look with interest at the various names put forward for coaching (some good 100 per centre names put forward) and for management which includes the interesting option of Lennie Lawrence, who can claim to have done it before.
Curbs for me would be too cautious.
I wonder if Murray has pondered a second of two on the possibility of Steve Coppell resurrecting his career in South London? He says he has packed it in, but might we present the right kind of club and challenge, at  the right time, and  have the right kind of chairman?
How's about that for a wild card? (A little mischievous perhaps?
(No doubt some will think it's good for a laugh!)

Monday, 18 October 2010

14/08/10 "Committed Addicks Past the Test"

That was my post after the Orient game.
The question right now is whether something has gone terminally wrong, or if it's a blot on the landscape that some rigorous training and bonding sessions can remedy before the next string of crucial games that will shape the season.
Its likely that for all the reasons previously stated and understood by most fans (inc. financial implications)  Parks and his team will get that opportunity to put things right whilst we remain in some touch with the 6th spot, at least.
We all need to briefly stand back, pause, let the dust settle and take stock after the last game.
I won't be influenced unduly by the more voiciferous rantings of the crowd in the immediate short term, as I can clearly recall their loud gushers of praise for "Super Alan Pardew" before he fleeced us by his own rantings and inability to accept responsibility for the shambles he left in terms of the team, the morale and worst of all some of the players he acquired and left us with on fat contracts that the club could ill afford.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Desparate Stuff

Difficult to find any positives from this. Parks prob. selected the best side he could with resources available.
After Dailly had done well at right back last week he went for safety by playing him there again to try to counter the threat from Brighton's  left wing.
Whether Doherty should have started after a flaky game last week is not so certain, but with Lierra also plagued with errors and uncertainty of late it was a difficult choice.
However, unless Fortune took a knock, it is difficult to fathom out why Parks decided to take off Fortune instead of Doherty after the latter had committed several errors, one of which resulted in a goal.
Brighton played a good passing game (that bordered on the dull at times in the first half, with the number of sideways and back passes). Charlton had three reasonable efforts, a Martin blockbuster just tipped over, a good header from Abbot (after we managed to get in one decent cross (from Martin) and a blocked Benson shot.
Other than that we did not threaten and Brighton began to turn their possession into total superiority.
While Brighton’s first two goals were largely down to errors, they always looked as if they were coming as Brighton had several chances arising from a mixture of some good passing movements but equally from some lax, lay-off marking.
We came out with no real new ideas in the second half and unlike recent games where we have turned up the quality of our game and the pressure, on this occasion we just descended further into gross mediocrity.
Elliot made a couple of good saves but looked uncertain on several occasions and whilst LuaLua fired a blinder in for their third goal, it was a long range effort and Elliot was nowhere near it (though from our position on the East Stand it was difficult to see if it swerved wildly).
In midfield, Racon was too lightweight, Samedo is solid but does not have the flair whilst upfront Benson and Abbot again had poor service but Abbot in particular just does not seem to have the right first touch while Martin again flattered to deceive.
Once again we seemed reliant on Reid to beat his man and make chances, but he was as guilty as anyone of a succession of poor final crosses when we actually got forwards into the box. With him seemingly suffering a bad knock the portents for the next couple of games are not good.
In fact, with 2 difficult away fixtures and a home game against Sheffield Wednesday (who seem to be hitting form) a mid table position looks the best we can hope for at the moment and a relegation scramble is beginning to look a distinct possibility.
Parks has done a reasonable job in putting together a side on next to no budget. However, they are at best a mid table team at the moment and there is increasing doubt as to whether he can mould this side together to play with the required commitment, passion and spirit to move us ahead, especially when the chips are down.
What Murray thinks at the moment is anyone’s guess.
If he senses that we are losing touch with the promotion hopefuls over the next 2-3 games and the team is not playing with the required craft and spirit he may just think that a change at the helm is required. Given the apparent state of the finances the commercial implications of a change would be another big gamble that, if it backfired, would move us further down the path to disaster.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Youga: A Major Blow

Our concern for Kelly Youga has been made on this and CAFCPICKS site for many months.
The latest news, and previous lack of news, had heightened our fears and now the regrettable bombshell has dropped.
His attacking play and crossing had given the side a different dimension in the past when we had totally ineffective wingers. His contribution was key to past successful runs and will now be sorely missed.
Indeed, the fans who sit immediately around me in the East stand felt that his return to fitness might just have been the additional key we need to turn the season around.
We wish him well in his fight for fitness. He should take some encouragement from Corey Gibbs.
The club (Curbs) signed Gibbs when he already had a record of a serious knee problem. He never made an appearance during the two years he was on contract due to the debilitating nature of the injury.
However, after returning to the USA MSL league with Colorado Rapids he moved on to New England Revolution where he is now, making 10 appearances for them last season and only being troubled by a groin injury, the knee and the knee apparently not holding him back.
Here's hoping that Kelly has some luck.
I am not sure how long his contract extends for but it is hoped that he will return to fitness and either see his contract out or get it extended through merit (in time for promotion?)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Bent gets the Scent but Beanpole Sees Green Light

Well Benty appears to have lost out to some over zealous training and tackling at Wembley during their ‘keep the ball’ session.
So we are now landed with the beanpole for another taste of looping crosses and playing to his strengths. To be fair to him he has notched up goals for England but does it do our national game’s reputation that much fielding a player with such physical attributes being his main claim to fame?.
I would prefer both Bent and Davies (who should not have been overlooked for so long) as being capable of adding better all round skills and a touch of style and excitement to our game. Surely we want a team to exude style that we can be proud of?
Of greater concern is figuring out why players succumb so often to significant injuries during training or on match days.
One factor is that players seem over trained in order to get maximum power and speed. As a result, their bodies are tuned to so highly that the slightest contact, stretch or over enthusiasm can pull a muscle, ligament or tendon here there or anywhere.
In years past, we never had the same profusion of hamstring pulls or medial ligament problems, nor incidents where players get injured during game warming up and have to be substituted before KO.
The ridiculous emphasis on style of boots being worn by our players doesn't help. Trendy coloured plastic styles designed with an emphasis on speed & comfort afford little ankle protection which had previously helped to avoid foot and ankle injuries. You would prob. not have got Derek Hales or Chopper Harris wearing them (or the unfortunates who had to play against them).
Finally, why do they get involved in such antics during training before a ‘big; game at Wembley? My guess is its because the players (who seem to have the power) like a ‘keep the ball’ fun game together with the need for the coaching staff feel to ensure they are sharp having missed their weekend games due to the break.
They would prob. be better off keeping sharp by fulfilling the weekend fixtures and taking a chance on injuries, then taking things easier before the mid week game with some less arduous training?

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Benson ends the Tension again

Not highly crafted blistering shots but crucial poacher goals for Benson.
If he can slot in a few to remember over the season that will be a added bonus but if he regularly demonstrates a poacher's talent to put away goals like his last three nobody will feel short changed.
I was impressed by his persistence. In partcular the first goal at Plymouth which had a bit of Mendonca, Hales and Matt Tee's bravery all rolled into it.
Reid "terrorised" the defence again and Martin  had a good spell on the wing (apart from another booking) and as previously stated, these can provide an effective twin winh attacking force even at the expense of Wagstaffe's goalscoring run.
It was good to see Dailly back even if he was forced to take on the captain's responsibility by filling in for Francis. The injury to Solly has exposed us at right back to an injury to Francis (or a run of poor form as in the last few games).
Doherty redeemed himself (to be fair may still be suffering from post flu symptons) with that headed cross for Benson after a shaky game. However, Fortune and Dailly promise to be our best back four selection option.
Regrettably it was  still a game of two totally different halves which I bemoaned in my last post, and this still needs to be sorted but credit to Parks for at least cranking up the performance after half time.
Here's hoping for two halves of 90 minutes committted effort against Brighton (and the odd penalty decision like that down on the Sussex coast yesterday!) 

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Selection: getting there; now the tactics!

After much opinion around the web, including my own, we seem to be nearing the side that many feel we need with Reid starting the game (and actually staying on for 90 mins), Fortune partnering Dailly (with the stead Doherty an excellent choice if injuries and yellow cards beckon), and Lierra there to draft in especially if we face 6ft 4 inches battering rams.
At MK Dons, Reid as usual was the key to opening up the defence and at least he had 90 mins to try.
Decisions have to be reached on midfield creativity and who to play up front. My own view is that Martin would be best employed as a sub to liven up the side if required unless a brave decision is taken to play him instead of Wagstaffe given the latter’s goal scoring to date. However, my view is that that does not make up for his general lack of contribution and Martin should be given the opportunity to be a second winger alongside Reid .
Benson and Abbot deserve a run and if we select Martin and Reid on the flanks they might get a decent service.
Even if we eventually get the selection right, we must sort out the tactics.
I cannot agree more with 'Drinking During the Game' more regarding our tactics. A number of us have been saying for a couple of seasons that we cannot understand why we start (away games in particular) in such a low key, negative way. In so many games, out of desperation at going one goal behind we bombard the opposition and sometimes get the required one of two goals (as per Swindon last season) or alternatively it comes as too little too late.
With the right team and tactics we may have a chance of getting a run of good results (which will be a real challenge given the imminent threatening fixtures).

So, once the selection is sorted, let's go at the opposition from the first minute.
Better going one or two up, even if we are to mistakenly try to hold on to it, than going one to two down. It may be better for the nerves of the travelling support!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Duane: For those who remember!

A slight digression; for a change!
Saw rock guitar legend Duane Eddy at a packed Royal Festival Hall,  London on Saturday night.
Just flown in from the States from Nashville which has seen monsoon conditions, floods and many deaths (inexplicably not reported here) and is reported to have lost 30 of his guitars that were in 'safe storage' in Nashville.On top of that he had a diabolical cold to combat.
In spite of all that, the 72 year old gave a great professional performance, provided an encore and was generous in his thanks to his UK fans.

Reminded me of the '60's when Duane's "Because They’re Young" and " Ballad of Palladin" echoed around the Valley as I walked around the Sam Bartram end on my way to taking up my position on the East Terrace.

Our side needs to demonstrate Duane type spirit against Brighton which is already a crunch game.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Continuation of the Same

I do not idolise Reid but it seems plain to see that he is one of our few players who can take on the opposition and give them the fright of their life.
Once again, he was on the bench and only brought into play in the second half whereupon he did enough to make a late goal for Wagstaffe and encourage a late rally.
I am still unsure as to whether he is carrying an injury that causes Parks not to select him at the outset. My view is that if he is fit enough to come on late in the game and cause problems, then why not select him at the start.
There are so many games that we have played away from home over the last couple of seasons where we have defended furiously going 1 or 2 nill down only to come back to dominate the last 20 minutes and either draw level or finish up losing by the odd goal.
Reid has been instrumental of late in supporting the fight back so why don’t we start the games with an objective of taking it to the opposition and getting a goal in front rather than have to persistently fight back, often against inferior opposition.
Francis defensive frailities exposed us for one of their goals but without Solly and Youga to challenge we have no options.
I have expressed fears about Youga's fitness in the past. When Parks was recently describing progress on the injuries front, Youga was conspicuous by his absense. I hope this is not a really bad sign?
Getting it right seems to be a combination of instilling the right attitude and belief into the team, the right tactics and the right team selection. Parks has got to juggle these so we get it right or it is going to be a long painful season and he is going to be under increasing pressure.