Super Josh Magennis!

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Charlton are unbeaten in 2017 and no one in the EFL has scored more goals in this calendar year than Josh Magennis! Well, we haven’t had a lot to be proud about recently so why not take this opportunity? In all fairness, this was a very good Charlton performance by a team that appears to have its confidence back after another turbulent few months in SE7.

After conceding to a Jermaine Easter opener following a slip by the Big Friendly German, it all felt rather familiar at The Valley. However, this time our heads did not go down, the crowd didn’t turn and once we equalised in the 41st minute through Magennis, we actually started to play some decent football.

The Addicks were shooting towards The Covered End in the second half and we were fortunate enough to witness the best 45 minutes by Charlton at home this season. Other than Magennis, the stand out performance was from academy product Joe Aribo who set up Magennis for his second and provided another assist for Teixeira to slot home the third from close range. However, with the imminent departures of Konsa and Lookman on the horizon, it’ll be interesting to see how long Joe hangs around.

Magennis completed his hat-trick in the 73rd minute after latching onto a pass from Crofts and finished with some aplomb; celebrating in front of an ecstatic (and surprised) North Stand.

Although not everyones cup of tea, a lot of credit has to go to new manager Karl Robinson who has clearly realised the huge work to be done to rebuild the relationship between the club and the fans. He ensured the whole team clapped all three stands (just like Matty Holland used to do…) following the final whistle and we also saw the first tunnel jump in a long time! Josh Magennis appearing twice as following his first jump, he forgot to re-collect his much deserved hat-trick match-ball! Just for a very brief second, it felt like we had got our Charlton back.

Let’s just hope Robinson is given the time and resources to build something positive at The Valley despite the hapless record of the current regime.

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A Season To Remember…

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The Charlton Athletic 2015-2016 season will long be remembered, but for all the wrong reasons. Three managers, a toothless battle against relegation and continuing mass protests only tell a small part of the throughly depressing downfall of a famous old, once proud – now poisoned, football club in South East London.

The Duchâtelet regime has made the football club almost unrecognisable from the club I grew up supporting. The very thing that made Charlton Charlton has gone – the soul has been ripped away from the club and, unless there is radical change, is in very real danger of disappearing into the abyss for ever.

The miserable plight of Charlton has become increasingly well documented. The fallout from the Brighton match was well-covered by Football on Five, indeed both Chris Powell and Chris Iwelumo featured as guests; expressing their deep concern for the future of Charlton. Furthermore, a recent on-point and well articulated article by Barney Ronay in the Guardian highlighted the ignorant and arrogant destruction of Charlton by our classless and repugnant owner and CEO, Roland Duchâtelet and Katrien Meire.

Brighton and Blackpool fans join in the protests.

Brighton and Blackpool fans join in the protests.

However, despite the ongoing tragedy, Saturday was a day to be proud of and will be memorable for the right reasons. Yet again, CARD did a superb job in organising a mass protest in which an estimated 6000 people took part. There were banners, balloons and beachballs and the game became a mere sideshow as the fans made their incandescent feelings towards the hapless board known once more. Moreover, the accompanying Brighton fans were absolutely brilliant. Thousands joined in the protest before the game and during the match could be heard singing anti-Roland songs. Some even joined the after-match protest to huge ovation and appreciation from the Addicks faithful.

As it stands, unless things change, I hold no hope at all for next season; time and time again the regime has proved itself clueless and incompetent and this shows no sign of changing.  There have been hopeful murmurs of Lennie Lawrence, Paul Elliot (and even David Beckham!); knights in white armour riding into SE7 to save us. However, until the Belgian contingent leave us the hell alone, I fear that next season may bring even darker times upon my beloved but beleaguered Charlton Athletic.

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Belgian Charlton: it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

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Charlton wrapped up 2015 with another defeat. This time at the hands of a very average Wolves side. Some of our defending was comical and our impotence up front was frankly, pathetic. In my mind, there is no real doubt that the players are trying their best but many of them are simply not good enough and others have had any fragment of confidence they once had, completely shattered.

The situation at The Valley is awful and I fear, will get worse before it gets any better. Not only do we have a dangerously weak squad but also an incompetent ‘Interim Coach’. Karel Fraeye is wildly out of his depth and if he had any real respect for the club, would walk away immediately. Following the defeat at Bristol City, he referred to them as Bristol Rovers and after losing to Wolves, seemed to imply that the hostilities he faced as he left the Valley pitch were actually aimed at the players!

His tenure has been nothing short of shambolic but even if he did walk, what next?

No self-respecting manager would touch Charlton with a barge-pole as things currently stand. The club is rotten to the core with Mr Roland Duchâtelet at the helm. His involvement in player recruitment and team selection means that only his puppets will be allowed to take the job at CAFC. Furthermore, all the signs are there to indicate he is pig-headed and arrogant enough to avoid realisation that his model of running a successful club is simply not working. Surely someone with his business acumen should realise to get the best return on his investment, he needs to invest in the first team squad to the extent they can win promotion to the Premier League? Why is this not happening? According to Katrien it’s because other Championship clubs are willing to invest £20-30million in their squad whilst Charlton ‘are not prepared to do that’.

One theory I overheard in the Upper North vs Wolves suggested that it would be in Roland Duchâtelet’s interest that we get relegated as support would dwindle further. This in turn would lead to our need to stay at the Valley to come into question. He would then be able to move Charlton Athletic to a smaller stadium in the regenerated Greenwich Peninsula site and sell the Valley site for a reported £25million. Therefore, doubling his original investment! This is in complete contradiction to the target 20,000 initiative recently touted by the club but we already know that lying comes very naturally to our owners.

Personally, I can’t see it happening but it is not beyond the realms of possibility. The sheer arrogance and belligerence the Belgians have shown towards Charlton fill me with dread. They talk about business and profit as if that is the point of football. In this interview (at 13:30) Katrien Miere suggests that football fans are “funny’ because they think they have ownership of a club. She goes on to compare running a football club to a restaurant or a cinema! She simply does not seem to understand that football is not like a restaurant. In the dining world, if you don’t like the food you can go somewhere else. True football fans are the lifeblood of a club and do not have that option. However, they can simply stop going and that appears to happening at Charlton. At Wolves yesterday, the attendance was boosted by the kids for a quid initiative – which I took advantage of myself. However, the dross served up by our Belgian leadership team meant that instead of nurturing the next generation of addicks, they may well have put them off for life.

Roland, Katrien and Karel – get out of OUR club.

“Just a shit Andy Carroll”

At the City Ground on Tuesday, the Nottingham Forest fans compared Charlton striker Simon Makienok to Andy Carroll in a less than favourable light. His performance against Forest was distinctly average and he missed two guilt-edged chances to win the match. There were even a few grumblings about him eminating from the 400 or so Addicks who made the 300 mile round trip.

How quickly things can change.

Against Hull City yesterday, the 6’7″ Danish striker was the man of the match, scoring a great header in the 52nd minute following an inch perfect pass from Johann Berg Gudmundsson. He returned the favour in the 8th minute of injury time; teeing up the Icelandic No.7 to head a brilliant 98th minute winner that sent The Valley into scenes of delirium! It was a fantastic end to a very assured performance from the new look Addicks. So much so that manager Guy Luzon was sent to the stands for an over enthusiastic celebration that saw him run Mourinho style down the touchline and disappear underneath a pile of ecstatic Charlton players!

Luzon must take a huge amount of credit for yesterdays performance and indeed, for Charlton’s excellent start to the campaign. When the fixture list came out I was concerned that we would get to the end of August with little to show. Home matches to two of the relegated teams, QPR and Hull City and away games at pre-season promotion favourites Derby and Nottingham Forest looked daunting. However, to take 8 points and remain unbeaten is a substantial achievement. Moreover, the collegiality and work-ethic apparent in the first team suggests a really good team spirit that bodes well for the rest of the season.

Another player who stood out yesterday was new-boy, Ahmed Kashi, who played superbly just in front of the impressive back four. He was a constant nuisance to Hull City and broke down plenty of attacks and distributed the ball with a calm sense of intelligence. Patrick Bauer continued his excellent start to the season and also deserves a special mention as he appeared to dislocate his finger in the second half and the whole crowd winced as the physio popped it back in the centre circle!

After the final whistle, Addicks fans poured out onto the sun-soaked streets in SE7 in great humour and voice. Last minute winners are always special and this was no different. The team deserved the 3 points and the offensive, attack-minded approach favoured by our manager really is breath of fresh air that complemented the glorious August afternoon perfectly.

We Only Win 3-0

Scoring at The Valley has made the news more than once this past week. The ‘Sextra Time‘ CAFC sex tape scandal had put Charlton in the headlines but it was (yet another) Berg-Gudmundsson stunner, and two very well taken goals by Tony Watt, that sealed the deal on Saturday afternoon.

The goals were all superb, but it was the manner of the victory that was most impressive. The players were brimming with confidence and appeared full of energy. They hardly allowed Huddersfield the time on the ball to create a meaningful attack and ensured the 25,000 Charlton fans, many of which had taken advantage of the football for a fiver deal, went home happy.

New Charlton manager, Guy Luzon, must take credit for the turn around. He took over in very difficult circumstances and had the fans on his back following the dismal performance against Rotherham. I must admit, I was very sceptical of his appointment and his habit of crouching down in his technical area immediately irked me. However, he has clearly got the dressing room behind him and has overseen three superb 3-0 victories that have put a smile back on the faces of many disillusioned Addicks, including mine.

Yesterdays victory ensured that Charlton leap-frogged over Huddersfield into 12th place and took another step closer to safety. With only 12 games to go, The Championship table is really starting to take shape and looks set for a very exciting conclusion. The top 8 are are only separated by 8 points whilst the bottom three now find themselves 6 points adrift.

In-form Nottingham Forest visit The Valley on Tuesday and I hope that many of those who took the opportunity to watch the game on Saturday return to create another great atmosphere. No matter how many supporters turn out, Dougie Freedman is guaranteed not to receive the warm welcome offered to Chris Powell upon his return to The Valley. The ex-Palace legend was rumoured to be in the running for the vacant Charlton managers job following the dismissal of Bob Peeters, but he ended up at Forest whilst Luzon took the reigns at Charlton.

Charlton can expect a tough game, but if they put in the same sort of performance that we saw against Huddersfield then there is no reason why we can’t secure another victory. 3-0 anyone?

What Might Have Been…

It’s the 94th minute, the last minute of injury time after a tempestuous match at the Valley. Some shocking refereeing decisions and a sensational 35 yard strike from Johann Gudmundsson have all added to a supercharged Valley atmosphere. Charlton play the ball out. Some neat and quick passing in midfield takes place, and then, all of a sudden, the ball is expertly played through to Igor Vetokele, Charlton’s leading goalscorer – who finds himself through on goal with only their keeper to beat. The Valley crowd rise to their feet in expectation as Igor bears down on the goal. Of all our players it is Igor who was born to take this chance and write his name in Charlton folklore. He HAS to take his chance. He HAS to score. He MUST score. HE…..

Blasts it into Row Z.

To be honest, I would have taken a point at half-time after a dismal first half display in which Callum Harriot was sent off for an awful tackle. Why a large proportion of the Valley faithful decided to clap him off, I have no idea – it really was stupid.

The Gudmundsson goal was brilliant. He had had a very poor first 45 minutes but came out a different player in the second. He had seemed short of confidence and his touch kept letting him down. However, if ever you needed a confidence booster, scoring a goal like this does the business! Earlier in the second half he had hit the bar with a sublime free kick and had been a constant threat on the left wing.

In the end, despite some very poor refereeing, a point was probably a fair(ish) result. We certainly did not deserve to lose the game. However, the memory of today’s match that haunts me is that last minute chance and seeing Igor collapse to his knees after he completely fluffed his lines. Indeed, cemented in my mind ever since is that feeling of what might have been…

Vetokele Makes a Point

Charlton’s unbeaten run at The Valley continued with a hard fought point against Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon. After a busy opening period in which both teams has good chances, ex-Real Madrid winger, Royston Drenthe, gave The Owls the lead after a strong run and classy finish from outside the box. Thankfully, Drenthe’s second half performance did not match his first and he was substituted in the 73rd minute.  Everytime Drenthe got the ball in the first half he looked dangerous and went past our players with ease. Jordan Cousins wasted Charlton’s best chance when he headed over in front of the 2000 or so travelling Wednesday fans, who had made the familiar journey down the M1.

It was three of those fans who caused a pretty big disturbance in the North Upper towards the end of the first half. They thought it was amusing to let the rest of the North Stand know where their loyalty lied and were marched out of the ground. However, as they made their way towards the concourse they were confronted by 100 or so angry Addicks who let them know exactly what they thought of our uninvited Northern guests… The police eventually turned up to help them on their not-so-merry way. It reminded me of a game back in the 90’s when the infamous Wednesday ‘Tango Man’ appeared in the North Stand during a cup game, although I’m sure if my memory serves me correctly, he was congratulating, not antagonising…

The fans that were kicked out missed what proved to be a very good second half for The Addicks. We went for Wednesday immediately after the whistle blew, and our pressure paid off in the 70th minute when unmarked substitute, Igor Vetokele, calmly stroked in what was (in mine and my Dad’s trusted opinion) a mistimed Rhoys Wiggins shot. Whatever the intention, the run that Wiggins made immediately beforehand was superb and justified an assist.

Both teams had chances to win, but a draw was probably a fair result. Charlton did look much better with Gudmundsson and Vetokele on the pitch, but our lack of striking options is a huge flaw in a promising squad. Vetokele is quality, but without him it’s hard to see where goals will come from. Watching Yann Kermorgant come on as a substitute for high-flying Bournemouth was a reminder of what we are missing and I’m looking forward to seeing what Roland and Bob can come up with in the transfer window. 23 points at this stage of the season is a significant achievement and with some quality additions our position may look even stronger at the end of the year. However, without further investment, points like today’s may become harder to secure as the season continues.