Saturday, 29 January 2011

"Rudolf" Probably On His Way

It's reported that our very own Rudolf Nureyev (Akpo Sodje), so christened after his magnificent pirouette to secure a penalty in his star substitution a while ago, may be on his way. This is due to the sudden influx of new forwards, who all look promising.
Obviously, from a financial standpoint there is then a need to adjust the current squad numbers.
Pavel Abbot looked promising when he first appeared (physically bigger and stronger than others and seemingly keen). However, this proved a false dawn and he has not been a success and it would be better for him and CAFC if he moved on.
In respect of Sodje, his first appearance in the monsoon, soaked conditions experienced by the team (and us!!) at Yeovil was a total contrast: he came on late as a sub; and a glorious goal to boot.
I felt that he should have been given a better opportunity to prove himself (though in fairness the chance to do this has been hampered by his injuries).
Until Benson has had a fair run and proven his own pedigree (and the same goes for our new recruits) Sodje may have challenged. It appears he will now not get that opportunity and I fear that wherever he goes he will join the long list of former players who stick one in against us; probably in a vital promotion fixture.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Thanks for Your Interest

It's good that my modest posts get some interest from some overseas visitors.
I guess they are largely UK ex pats, but maybe the name, reputation and history of our great club travels well and attracts others.
Anyway.hope to maintain the interest of all English speaking visitors over the next year and others:
Obrigado pelo seu interesse Brasil; Tak for din interesse Danmark; Merci pour votre intérêt France; Gracias por su interés de España; شكرا لاهتمامك كوريا
Oh, and thanks for the interest you Shielas
A belated Happy New Year to you all. With our new player acquisitions so far, and hopefully more to come, it's looking a lot more promising that it did a month ago so let's hope we get some success to reward Chris Powell's efforts, not forgetting the efforts of Parkinson for the players he has brought in.

On and forward!!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

An Eye Opener for Chris

Great welcome; great win for Chris and a great 3 points.

Problem was it was almost a lucky 3 points. The number of shots on goal were as sparse as usual (and certainly in the first half Argyle looked more threatening) and the dearth of midfield creativity was there for all (and especially Chris) to see. Racon had his moments but there was little else of anything effective in a creative context. Acquisition of a combative created midfielder is essential: I'm none too sure that Jason Ewell would meet that need.
Francis' crossing was dreadful (and yet we still give him most of the free kicks) and Reid was just as hopeless when he came on.
Who does the training (and is there any done on crossing?: Christ these are highly paid professional footballers.
Otherwise at the back, Matt Fry will be missed for both his effort and all round defensive play and breaks forward. and Dailly had an imposing game. Doherty was all effort and had a reasonable game but is still not quite the ideal partner. Last season I would have said Fortune was the natural choice but he seems to have lost that half a yard in pace and I'm not certain it is not too late to get it back. I would till like to see Mambo given the chance.
Wagstaffe did little of significance for the first 60 minutes but in the latter third of the game knicked a goal and then made some good runs and neat passing; is it a confidence thing with him?
Upfront, I thought that Anyinsah showed great effort and skill, most of all he can hold his own physically and is not that easy to knock off the ball. The new boy Eccelstone looked lively and was really the only one who seemed willing to take the opposition on and try to beat them; dreadful but true. And the first time he did it it resulted in a fine goal, albeit aided a little by a deflection.I would like to see him start the game alongside Anyinsah and keep Benson on the bench to bring on later, rather then the other way around.
Given the performance in the first half the team were cheered on more for Chris Powell rather then for their own capabilities. However, there was a moderate improvement in the second half and most of all they kept at it, and Chris Powell prob. deserves some brownie points for that. We remain in contact (though games in hand are far from bankers).
Keep it up Chris

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Nat Lofthouse: Great Player and Man (somewhat maligned)

There have been some great BLOG posts about our Chris this week and whilst I will prob. not resist the temptation of adding a few of my own, there is plenty to get on along with in the meantime.

Therefore, as in the case of Bobby Smith a while ago, I would like to add a few words about the passing of Nat Lofthouse.
Nat was a centre forward that no one relished marking. He was as tough as old boots and the heavy leather ball he regularly stuffed into the opposition's net.
He was a great physical player (like Bobby Smith) both on the ground and in the air but also had great skill. For all of his hard man qualities he had the reputation of being a down to earth, straight gentleman.
He was a great servant of Bolton, his only club, as a player, coach, manager and President and proud to be a one club man; and he was also a formidable England centre forward and played in some historical games.
Unlike Bobby, whom I saw many times in games over the years, Nat was a little before my time. He retired at the end of my first season at the Valley in 1958.
However, he did play in the first live Cup Final I watched on the TV in 1958 against Man United.
It was the first final after the Munich Air Crash and Man United understandably had the nation's sympathy going into the final.
That meant that Nat was ultimately vilified for having the audacity to charge United's goalkeeper Harry Gregg into the net or their second goal. Of course, shoulder to shoulder charging was fair game in those days (before the fast developing non-contact game we have today).
However, many felt that he had charged Gregg in the back, not the shoulder, as he was knocked into the back of the net with the ball. Given the emotional nature of the day, everywhere apart from Bolton seemed to make him the prime anti-hero of the day. I have read that he subsequently said he had fouled Gregg. However, Nat was only guilty of being a 100% man the like of which most clubs, including our own, would savour, and was merely doing his job for his paltry maximum wage pay.
What is a shame is that many of my generation had that tainted view of Nat and some do to today, which is totally unjust as he was such a great player and servant of the game.
He will be sadly missed in the game and especially at Bolton.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

One Down: How many to go?

Don't blame Howe for declining our bid (at least he had the sense to discard the palace offer as well).
He seems comfortably settled on the south coast and is young enough to bide his time for the big opportunity (the current high profile PR certainly won't hurt his case).
Quite apart from obviously having his terms improved with the Robins, he may also have an element of the old fashioned about him:  loyalty! Good luck to him, but not at our expense.
One hopes that he was not in any way disenchanted with what he has heard and seen at the Valley of the club, the owners, the general set-up and terms. There was something that Billy Davies did not like about the old regime and one hopes that this will not be a problem in respect of the new set up in ongoing recruitment.
The general feeling amongst supporters to date was that the new owners had a man lined up before being so bold and decisive to drop Parkinson and his team. If that was the case (and Howe was the intended) then the wider options may not as yet have been assessed or sounded out to any extent, and could therefore take some time).
Of course, there have also been rumours about longer lists of candidates and if that has always been the case perhaps things were not that advanced before Parks went: who knows.
What is apparent is that we have missed out on getting an extremely high calibre young manager who could have grown with us. Others who might be available amongst the lower leagues and some of the old hackneyed names that are bounded about at these times of managers who are full of wind and have not scored elsewhere seem somehow much less exciting at this stage. I have that general feeling about the likes of Coleman (and include Wise in that category). I don;t think we are in the league for one of the chewing gum, available ex Premier League managers like Allardyce (and one must remember his sterling service for Millwall!).
Similarly, the prospect of the ex Peterborough manager does not excite me.
Obviously, Poyet would be a coup which most would go along with, but surely this is a massive bridge too far? He is milking his current success and promotion and a new ground with the vast potential around Brighton to increase support is surely more to his liking, even if we could afford him?
I am not an enthusiastic exponent of the 'bring back Curb's brigade'.  I felt that his cautious brand of football towards the end of his time with us (and a few questionable signings) are not what we need and do not excite. However, given the potential paucity of choice and Curb's fast running out prospects to make a return to management, maybe "cometh the hour, cometh the man" may yet apply. He certainly knows his way around the Valley.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Signs Point To Howe

Unless there is a major diversionary process under way by the owners, then it looks like Bournemouth's Howe may be our man.
It appears that he has (sensibly) turned down Palace, unless it was just because we were offering more money?
The Bournemouth Chairman s reported to be meeting him tonight and I note that it was reported he was at Spurs yesterday. If Slater and co' met up with Redknapp after the game it's likely that he would have given him a good reference from his days at both Bournemouth and Spurs.
Howe seems to me to be a fair bet to do as good a job as anyone.
He knows this level of football and what it requires, he is young and ambitious with a good reputation, and his record over the last couple of years is impeccable, albeit at one club. At the moment, he is one of the top young coaches available.
My feeling is that we are unlikely to be able to attract top wrung League One players and the same may apply to good value for money Euro imports, though I saw this as a potential opportunity in a previous post and maybe that is not out of the question..
I reckon that he would have as good a knowledge as anyone at trying to pick the cream of available players from our division that we could afford, and if there really are any players willing to drop down from Division One (the danger being they might be over the top and too costly) then there must be adequate knowledge of these somewhere within the club, including the supposed knowledge of Jimenez.
It'll be interesting if it transpires and I feel sure he will get the support of the fans if appointed.

Deservedly Proud Day For Peacock

I recall seeing Keith Peacock make his debut at the Valley and become a first team regular when he just 17 years. He also came to coach at our school with David Stocks which was a rare event for us.
He has been an excellent and loyal servant for the club though in fairness he never quite fulfilled the great promise he had  as a player he had back then; it seemed at the time he would mature into a world beater.
However, no one has ever doubted where his heart was and it must have been a very proud day for him yesterday and it was great to see the reception he was given.
It was also interesting to see how he spent time with the players and appeared to be consoling McCormack   after the game and Fry at half time when both seemed concerned about his injury following the collision with Elliot.
In summary, the side put in a good first half performance and showed a marked improvement in their passing. Racon had a good game but (like Reid) still manages to lose the ball at critical moments that could cost us the game). Once again we were not sharp enough in front of goal and shot shy; had they not been the case we may have taken in a half time lead.
The game was lost in 15-20 minutes in the second half when we gave away some sloppy goals ( Elliot should have got nearer the first goal, and the defence fell aprt for the other two). In fairness Spurs could probably have slotted in another 3 without much effort, but at the same time, Fry had a 30 yard shot brilliantly saved by their keeper, Sodje forced a great save when perhaps he should have done better, and Doherty came close at the end with a good header.
Modric's substitution changed the game as he ruled everything. However, as usual the defence fell back to our penalty area and afforded him so much time and space that a player with his talent could not fail to impress. I think by that time we were just pretty knackered; had he been present in the first half he may have had a more uncomfortable time with Samedo snapping at his heels.
It never ceases to amaze me the fickleness of the fans at these big clubs.I often go through Finsbury Park en route home after a Valley game and if Arsenal have not won convincingly you hear no end of groans and moans on the platform from their 'fans'.
At Spurs, the crowd was totally silent for most of the game, especially when we were holding our own. As we all know, we have experienced the same at Old Trafford.
Our fans did us proud (apart from some of the pathetic chanting from some of our younger brigade).
As "Hungry Ted" has said our incessant booing of  Defoe probably just stoked up his enthusiasm to stick a couple past us, as he always does.
So, after Keith's moment of pride we now await a new manager. I hope it is not the decsison that a vast majority of the CAFC faithful do not want and which, if it happens, will mean that the new ownership will have a lot of repair work to do, and a severe damage limitation exercise it it doesn't work out.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Thanks for the Lifeline: The Jury Awaits the Outcome

We are initially grateful for the new investment team to take the reigns and enable the club to be commercially viably in the short term.
If Wise is appointed, the assurance by Slater that he was not part of the deal would be a bit like an insurance policy that has got a lot of small print that had to be studied. (I.E. We saoid he was not part of the buy-out deal, but we never said he was not the favoured new manager).
I'm not sure to what extent the new ownership want to carry the committed support with them. If they do then decisions on team management are going to be important.
Equally, can they assure the support that there will be there long term commitment to the club and the Valley; are they prepared to push their property development credentials to the background.
If they do not have the ability to resist longer term development temptations then we may be entering a dangerous period for the club.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Baptism of Fire

The new owners no doubt felt a little uncomfortable about their new baby at Colchester, despite the late rally. However, the display against Swindon must have negated any New Year festivities and demonstrated the task that they have taken on.
We know CAFC can play better than tonight's dismal performance but of late they have only really done it against Peterborough. Even when we have got the required results of late we have been rated second best by neutrals.
Tonight was so poor that it must be virtually impossible for them to have envisaged a game plan that involved acquiring some players for key positions (subject to the budget), as in general they were all bad. In my mind, Jackson was the exception as he looked the only one capable of  going at the opposition but because he was shunted back to left back it was well nigh impossible for him to demonstrate that.
Given our form and lack of competitiveness over the last couple of months then it really is a miracle that we sit where we do in the league. Without an improvement in the squad with 2-3 key players it's difficult to see how any manager could have done better.
However, even with a reasonable budget available what kind of players are we going to be able to attract?
My guess is that most decent Championship players (and Hoolahan would be one of my favourites) would not want to drop a division and especially to us, let alone the fact that we may not be able to pay their wages.
Therefore, we are back to getting old pros at the end of their careers (no thanks) or chancing a few youngsters from the Championship, our division or lower who have yet to make it. Obviously, that would be  a very chancy affair.
Is it possible that our new 'mate' Jimenez could find a couple of bargains on the continent within the EEC with no work permit problems? (for all his detractors, a bargain like Kishishev). Unless we have lashings of money to throw around maybe that is the only way (assuming such players are available during the January period. Can;t really imagine Bailey coming back on loan (and many may not fancy him anyway) or even Shelvey unless Liverpool paid 75 % of his wages (a tall order?!).
Who would anybody else like to see (and think we would have a chance of signing?).