Thursday, 27 August 2009

A Travelling Addick - Tranmere Preview

Week 5 of the 2009-10 season see’s Charlton Athletic journey up the M6 to the North West to take on Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.

Both sides have had contrasting starts to the season, with the Addicks taking maximum points from their opening 4 fixtures to put them atop the League 1 table. Tranmere on the other hand have won just one of their opening 4 matches under new manager John Barnes to leave them three places from the bottom of the league table.

An important fixture for both sides, history says a draw is the likely result, but with 26 goals being scored in the sides previous 10 encounters, a goal-less draw is probably not what you should be betting on this weekend!

A Red Divided will be travelling up for this one.... I couldn't pass up an opportunity to head back home for the weekend for this match! Richard has fond memories of Liverpool, the last time he was up there was when Charlton, with the inspired Thomas Mhyre in goal held Liverpool to a draw and we had a cracking weekend out in town that weekend!!

This weekend is the world famous "Beatles Festival" which means that town will be booming, so for the small number of Addicks heading up, I hope you are going to stay over night and enjoy the bank holiday party in Liverpool!

Tranmere Rovers vs Charlton Athletic
Saturday August 29th

Prenton Park
Kick Off 3pm

A Tranmere View….
Thanks to “Tranmere Italian”, “Miltipello and “eXtreme” from for their help!

Last year saw you come agonisingly close to a play off position and finish in 7th place, your best position since your third place finish in 2004/05, but the start to the 2009/10 season has seen you win just one of your opening 4 matches to leave you 3 places off the foot of the table. Where do you see yourself finishing the season this year and what needs to happen to take that step into the play offs or promotion places?

Tranmere Italian: We have had a difficult start to the season due to effectively a total new starting eleven. We completely lost the spine of our team from last year. This year we have a mix of young loanees and youth academy players together with a few experienced pros. In terms of finishing position, at best mid table for us and little chance of the play offs!!

Miltipello: Being realistic, I think what's in store for us this season is ultimately a season stuck in and around mid-table, probably the bottom half mid-table too. The squad we have is paper thin at the moment and when we lose key players to injury I think it will really show. In order to get the play-offs we need some a 20 goal a season striker to come in, but given our budget it's going to be difficult to do this.

eXtreme: We need to show some spine and make the opposition play our way not theirs, and stop losing the ball. I can see us getting relegated this season. You said "What needs to happen to take that step into the play offs or promotion places?" A new gaffer, simple!

You’ve recently installed John Barnes as manager, a Liverpool and England legend, who’s managerial record isn’t the greatest…. What’s he done over the summer to boost, or drain your confidence for the forthcoming season? Is he the right man to take Tranmere forwards?

Tranmere Italian: I am not a Barnes fan. He wants to play total football in League 1, which is pretty to watch but not effective and we do not have the players to fulfil his style. I think he is going to take us in the wrong direction for League 1. We were awful at Leeds and could and should have lost 7-0!

Miltipello: I think the style and ideas he is trying to adopt to our game are fantastic. Swansea played their way out of this division and certainly would be great to see it work. However, unlike Swansea we haven't the cash to spend to bring in the better players who can play the passing game and that has shown in our performances so far. To end on a good note our kids have had a great chance to shine and Ash Taylor certainly looks a great prospect at centre back.

eXtreme: What's he done to drain you're confidence... well he never did have it, and I can't see him getting my confidence at all. Look what he did at Celtic " Super Cally Go Ballistic As Celtic Are Atrocious" says it all...

Charlton and Tranmere are in similarly precarious positions when it comes to the club owners and where the clubs will be going in the next few years is anyone’s guess. But you boys found yourself in a particularly unusual situation over the summer…. When you found out that Tranmere had been placed on e-bay, did you think it was a wind up? Will a change of ownership help drive Tranmere towards the Championship?

Tranmere Italian: I personally think ebay was done on purpose as the whole world knows Peter Johnson wants to sell!! He wants too much for the club though and we are in the shadow of Liverpool and Everton!

Miltipello: My first thoughts were, "Typical Tranmere". I sometimes consider ourselves the Newcastle of League One in that we'll be doing something ridiculous that'll get us in the press, but never usually for the right reasons. Changing ownership, as long as into the right hands can only be a good thing. That's not to say Peter Johnson hasn't done anything for the club, but some new blood could be the kick start that all clubs at this level desire.

eXtreme: Ebay... haha now that did make me cry not in a sad way, but more of and "I don't believe it, this has got to be a wind up" way! A change of Ownership is a must, Johnson has stated he wants to sell so we need to look to the future and hope we don't get a YANK to buy us!

What do you think League 1 holds for Charlton this season and where do you think the Addicks will finish up?

Tranmere Italian: I’m looking forward to seeing you play on Saturday. I would have thought you are a definite for play offs at least!

Miltipello: Personally I see Charlton finishing in the top 2. They've started brightly and the Valley is a difficult place to go and grab any points. I think Leeds will win the title this time around, but Charlton will certainly be there or there abouts!

eXtreme: Play offs at least! Charlton are a decent side, they've got the fans and the support of there board room, but i think Charlton will be champions

Charlton and Tranmere Head to Head

Tranmere Rovers Honours

Football League Cup Runners Up 2000
Third Division North Winners 1938
Division Three Play Off Winners 1991
Football League Trophy Winners 1990
Football League Trophy Runners Up 1991
Welsh Cup Winners 1935
Welsh Cup Runners Up 1934

The Ground:

Prenton Rd West, Birkenhead, CH42 9PY

View Larger Map

The ground isn’t that difficult to find and can be reached either through Liverpool City Centre and the Queensway Tunnel or via the M53… I’d recommend Junction 3 of the M53 and it should be signposted from there. Trains run from London to Liverpool Lime Street and connections can be made to get to either Birkenhead Central or Rockferry which are the closest stations. As usual, the trains appear to be crap from London on the Saturday and they’ll probably be dry trains too, which given the scenes at Upton Park this week, can’t really be sniffed at.

Capacity: 16,587 (all seated)

Prenton Park is made up of 4 stands: The Main Stand, The Kop, The Cowshed and the John King Stand. Away supporters are housed in the Cowshed which thankfully isn’t as bad as other “shed’s” around the country and provides comfortable settings for away supporters.

Prenton Park is not a ground that sells out, it is regularly half empty, with average attendances for last season around the 6,000 mark, there will be plenty of empty blue and white seats.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Rewind - Back to the Dark Days.... it's not a pretty sight

Last night we were reminded of the darker side of football and once again it involved sides from London and to no one's suprise, it involved Millwall (again)….

I didn’t watch the match, but I heard from friends that there had been trouble and that it was kicking off quite big. When I got in from work (quite late) I logged onto the beeb and they were showing footage of the scenes during the match, and also of the stand off between fans outside the ground that continued into the night.

The Guardian today has some photographs of the trouble on their site and from the looks of it, it was a large disturbance that involved a significant number of people and resulted in several serious injuries.

Videos of the disturbances are now appearing on youtube as well.... although this chap who filmed this must now be thinking "was it such a good idea?" He has been appearing on Sky and other TV shows, showing his face and showing his video... living so close to a bunch of hammers fans... I'm not so sure he's been wise in his moves... the funniest point though is that he was on sky sports today in a Liverpool top!!! Is he mental???

It looks as though the invasions and the provocations inside the ground were coming from West Ham and not from Millwall, which I must admit, came as a surprise, my initial reaction was that there was trouble around the away end….

I’m sure that Millwall are not completely in the clear and there are reports of police intervention in the away end during the match. Outside of the ground the press are now reporting that much of the early violence was caused when West Ham and Millwall fans were trying to get at each other through the police cordon, the police standing their ground then became embroiled in battles with both sets of fans. But I’m sure that the police and FA investigations will look into the make up of the crowds that gathered both before and after the match.

Regardless of who did what, this incident is undoubtedly going to re-open the debate around punishments for clubs that are unable to restrain their fans and maintain an environment for all, rather than the x-rated scenes that were seen at Upton Park last night.

In my opinion, the scenes inside the ground and the sheer number of fans that invaded the pitch from the West Ham end points to the fact that levels of stewarding and their positioning was a major issue. It looks as though West Ham have concentrated on restraining the away supporters and ignored their own supporters at the same time….so what do the FA do?

The expectation is that both clubs will be given a large fine and will be reprimanded by the FA, but is that enough? Do the FA have the balls to turn around to West Ham and tell them that as a result of their inability to steward and police their fans to a satisfactory level they will be disqualified from the Carling Cup?

What do you think the penalties for the two clubs should be?

On a more CAFC related topic… when the Addicks are playing Millwall, should I expect to see similar levels of violence?

I’ve never been away to the Den, I was working away when Liverpool played there a few years ago when their was violence between the two sides, but I did get a taste of CAFC’s rivalries notably with Palace and it was an intense atmosphere….

Is Charlton’s rivalry with Millwall as intense? Charlton travel lightly at the best of times, will their allocation be even smaller at the Den?

Monday, 24 August 2009

A few thoughts....

Since our last post (Hartlepool Preview) we’ve seen Charlton win twice on their travels and once at home this weekend, which gives them a 100% record after 4 matches, having scored 9 goals and conceding only 3 in the process, 2 of which were on the opening day of the season.

This is just the start to the season that the players and fans needed. With the exception of an early carling cup exit last week, it’s been a near perfect start to the season with goals coming from all over the pitch and with the side looking like they are playing with desire, drive, determination and more importantly concentration! Fans have continued to flock to the valley in their thousands ensuring that the Addicks continue to have one of the larger average attendances outside of the premiership which can only spur on the players when they need that bit of extra encouragement.

Last season I must have sounded like a broken record, the number of times that Charlton scored first and went on to concede a quick goal or a last minute goal had me harping on about the team losing their concentration too easily to almost anyone who would listen, it was usually Richard though, my other mates would just tell me to shut up!! I think that in the first four matches of the season, we’ve seen a side that is mentally stronger than it was last season and by getting a few wins under their belts, in what I would describe as a fairly convincing manner, should really set the foundations for the side to continue to push for promotion back into the Championship.

I’m a lover of statistics, I think it’s the American in me coming out, but I was thinking about when the last time Charlton won four matches on the trot was? For those who are interested, it was November 2007 (that time it was three away matches against Southampton, Bristol City and Preston North End and a home match against Cardiff City), but it’s not the first time that they’ve won their opening four matches! The 2005 premiership season saw wins against Sunderland, Wigan, Birmingham and Middlesbrough in their opening four matches!

This coming weekend sees the Addicks travelling up to the North West to take on Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park who sit towards the bottom of the table with 3 points from their opening 4 matches, but that shouldn't be a reason for the Addicks to get complacent and I'm hoping that they'll come out firing on all cylinders and take the match to the team from the North West.

I’m looking forward to heading up North (back home really) this weekend for the match, to get out on the lash in Liverpool, see the family and my friends and to get onto the Mersey Rail over the water to watch the Addicks in my own back garden. Happy Days.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Hartlepool United Preview

It's long trip north tomorrow, for what is the second of three consecutive away fixtures. We head to Hartlepool after being relived of our league cup commitments following Tuesday's extra time loss at Hereford United, a result which appears to have been met with mild disappointment but ulitimately a certain sense of relief. This season is, after all, about getting of this division (at the right end I might add).

Like many, I'm pretty clueless about tomorrow's opposition, although their opening two results of the season, a credible draw with the MK Dons and the Championship scalp of Coventry City in the League Cup, suggest they won't be a push over. If we're to stand any chance of being in the mix at the end of the season however, these are games we really should be winning.

In terms of personnel, the good news is that following a mid-week break for most of our first choice XI, we seem to be refreshingly injury free. Dailly, Llera and Richardson are all fit to resume defensive duties and there don't appear to have been any additions to the injury list following the game at Hereford. Phil Parkinson therefore has options at his disposal, how will he use them?

To be honest, it's difficult to see him doing anything other than sticking with the eleven that took to pitch again Wycombe Wanderers last weekend. Nobody seemed to have staked a claim to a starting berth at Hereford and, more to the point, we played some good stuff against the Chairboys. As Parkinson has himself acknowledged however, we do seem to be lacking the fire to tuck away the chances we are creating.

Deon Burton and Jonjo Shelvey will need to improve on their performances last week, which were short of what they would have liked. Andy Gray, Izale McLeod, Chris Dickson and Stuart Fleetwood will all be desperate for the chance to start a game up front, and they may get their opportunity to do so in the not too distant future. Andy Gray certainly hasn't done a very good job of selling himself however, missing an open goal against Wycombe and a penalty against Hereford.

So all things considered, this who we are likely to see take to the pitch come 3pm:

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Racon, Semedo, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton

I can't imagine the bench will change either, although it would be good to see Yado Mambo given one of the seven spots should either Dailly or Llera suffer a recurrence of their injuries.

I'm not sure what to expect from this game. I would like to think we can start to build some momentum in the league by adding a further three points to those we picked up against Wycombe, but unfortunately I think Hartlepool will make this harder for us than we would like.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Three points, injuries and Hereford

I've had a couple of days now to reflect on Saturday's game and our start to life in the third tier of English football. It's difficult to add to what most of the blogs have said already, but here is a brief summary of my thoughts:


- After a visit to the club shop, I can confirm that I like our new kit, both home and away.

- The attendance was very encouraging indeed. Those who thought they could turn up half an hour before and walk straight up to the counter and get a ticket must have been bitterly disappointed when met with a queue around the block.

- In the first half, and for the first half of the second half, we played some decent, attractive football and didn't really give Wycombe a sniff.

- Two goals from two debutants is good news and to an extent, Parkinson has proved a point with his recruits. Dailly in particular I thought looked impressive.

- We got three points.


- We never make it easy on ourselves do we?! I can't have been the only one in need of a stiff drink once the final whistle had blown. The game should have been done and dusted at half time, but we conceded two goals at two crucial times, and as such it seemed a bit of a laboured victory. Full marks to Rob Elliot (who I thought had looked shaky on crosses) for two world class saves in the last fifteen minutes, as well as two off the line stops, but I was a nervous wreck by the end of the game.

- We didn't really get a big enough performance out of some of the players. Given the transfer interest surrounding him, much of the attention will fall on Jonjo Shelvey, but I'm afraid he didn't live up to billing on Saturday. Deon Burton had a quiet game up front, and Kelly Youga continues to frustrate.

- I'm not really sure Parkinson's double substitution made sense. Why go from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 when you are effectively looking to close a game out a 3-1 up? Surely a player like Matt Spring is made for those kind of circumstances? I won't dwell on Gray's miss, it's only game one after all.

- It was pretty sad to see such a visible reduction in match day staff, as well as the big screen being out of action.

Probably the worst thing to come out of Saturday's match however, has been the injuries we have sustained as a result of it. For Phil Parkinson to say we are now down to 'bare bones' for tomorrow night's match against Hereford, after one game, is pretty shocking. For the past few weeks, I've been suggesting (to the point where I've been sick of writing it) that we do not have adequate cover in defence. So for Christian Dailly, Miguel Angel Llera and Frazer Richardson ALL to get injured in the first game (albeit with varying degress of seriousness) is pretty galling.

Fortunately tomorrow is a League Cup game rather that a League One game, and Parkinson is likely to use the opportunity to give the likes of Yado Mambo and Chris Solly a run out. Had the game been in the league however, I wonder how comfortable would have been in starting them. Regardless, the need for reinforcements at the back is clear and it needs to happen sooner or later. Sam Sodje is currently a free agent - surely someone like him could do a job for us?

Like most of the nation's fans, I'm pretty apathetic towards the League Cup, although I would like to see us notch a win and maintain the momentum from Saturday. It also gives an opportunity for some players to prove a point, and other to stake a claim for a place in the starting XI. An embarassing defeat does nobody any good, so here's hoping for a safe and injury free passage into round two before we start concentrating on Saturday's trip to Hartlepool.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Wycombe Wanderers Preview

So here we are. On the verge of the start of another season and this one feels a bit different. For many Charlton fans (me included), and perhaps more importantly Charlton players, the third tier of English football will be a brand new experience and a harsh reality. I must admit, I had forgotten we are now expected to enter the Johnstone's Paint Trophy until the announcement of our bye was published earlier this week.

The critics, it seems, have already written off our chances of doing anything other than keeping our heads above water. For example, The Guardian today reckons that Alan Pardew's Southampton, starting with a ten point deficit, will be better place than us at the end of the season (I'll ignore the fact they are predicting Millwall to be champions). Part of me agrees with much of the predicted mediocrity. It's a new season however, and if we're going to start on a downer then we're all doomed. So first some positives.

Given the situation he has been put, Phil Parkinson appears to have done a pretty good job of getting the squad in shape in pre-season. Probably out of necessity rather than choice, the squad is now looking a lot trimmer and, to an extent, slightly more balanced. The jury is out on his new signings, Llera, Richardson and Dailly, but there can be no dobut that he has recruited in the right positions. He also appears to have given youth a chance in pre-season. Scott Wagstaff, Chris Solly, Tamer Tuna and the brilliantly named Yado Mambo, may all find they have a significant part to play this season.

Of course, putting to one side the concerns off the field, there are some on it as well. In summary, here are my major worries ahead of what is going to be a long season:

- As per last season, we are starting the term with only two recognised centre backs, Llera and Dailly, who are by no means spring chickens. An early injury to either will immediately put us in an invidious position, playing Youga or Semedo there just doesn't cut it I'm afraid. We need reinforcements before the end of the month.

- Our prized assets i.e. our midfield, could be decimated come 31st August unless a takeover allows us to hang on to Bailey, Racon and Shelvey. Losing one of them would be a blow, losing all three would be a catastophe.

- I'm still not convinced by any of our strikers. Burton, Dickson, McLeod and Gray have all shown indifferent form in a Charlton shirt, and the fact that Fleetwood hasn't been given the chance suggests that the likelihood is he would do the same. One or more of them really needs to start scoring regularly this season, hopefully they will benefit from the drop down a division.

So to the opening game. For the third season in a row, we are playing a newly promoted team. Last year's competent, if not spectacular, win over Swansea City proved to be a false dawn so whatever happens on Saturday should not be taken as a yardstick for the season. However, it is important for a positive start to restore some confidence to the squad and to the fans. Wycombe come into the match depleted by injury, but no team prepared by Peter Taylor should be taken lightly.
Like the majority of blogs, I can not see beyond the following as the starting XI (I'll skip trying to predict which seven substitutes Parkinson has to pick):
Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Shelvey, Racon, Bailey; Burton

As per the eve of any new season, I am excited by the prospect of seeing Charlton in action, even if there will be a fewer people there and there aren't as many recognisable names on display. Excited as I may be, I've got to ask … is anybody else just a little bit nervous?!

The Accumulator Challenge - Week 1

This is going to become a weekly fixture on A Red Divided this season, but I thought we would start off this week with the Football League.

A group of lads in my office and a couple of friends have decided to run a weekly accumulator. Each week, the 8 lads will pick a match and declare whether it will be a home or away win. Before the weekend, I will put the bet on at my local bookies and we’re going to see how we can do over the course of a season. Hopefully we'll all be able to drive away

For the superstitious out there, rest assured, we’ve enforced a Charlton black out, with no one being able to bet on the Addicks…..this was a condition that Richard insisted on!

This week’s selection is:

So we’ve got 7 home win’s and one away win, with most people shying away from the West Brom – Newcastle match, or the Middlesbrough – Sheffield United match!

Are there any on this list that are going to let us down?

What do you think?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

In the Summertime... When the Weather is Fine...!

One of the posts that I put up towards the end of last season asked what people do when there is no football on over the summer, so I thought I’d give the Addickted an insight into what I’ve been up to! It’s been a manic summer so far, it seems that every weekend has something going on and I’ve not had much spare time to get myself down to the boozer to enjoy some R&R with the lads…

This is probably a good thing to be completely honest!! In a moment of madness I signed myself up to complete what I’ve coined a “Triathlon of Fun”. Essentially, it involves me taking part in the London Triathlon (which was last Saturday), the Windsor Half Marathon and the Barcelona Triathlon. “Why on earth would you do that?”, I hear you ask… well…I’m doing it to get fit, which is working, I’m really enjoying the swimming, biking and running, but more importantly, I’m doing it to raise money for UNICEF, and in particular UNICEF’s UNITE FOR CHILDREN, UNITE AGAINST AIDS cause.

I’ve been a long time supporter of UNICEF and it wasn’t until I started reading up on the statistics that it really hit me. 15 million children have been orphaned by AIDS or an AIDS related disease and by the end of next year; this number is estimated to have risen to 20 million. It really is a staggering statistic, so I set about thinking how I could raise money for UNICEF and I thought I’d add a bit of spice to the normal charity run or marathon by doing a few of them! If you are interested in following my progress or wish to donate is the link to allow you to do this.

It’s not all been about me getting fit this summer though…. Those who read ARD will have read in the past that I am an avid motorcyclist and that when I’m not watching football (or training for my triathlons) I can often be found around the Home Counties on my motorcycle with my friends. In June I made my annual pilgrimage to the Isle of Man for the Tourist Trophy (TT) Races. It’s a brilliant week, and I would recommend that if you are at all interested in motor racing, you try to get over there for a week or weekend during race week. The racing was stunning with lap records falling regularly. It’s amazing to think that over a 37.73 mile course the superbikes can lap at an AVERAGE speed of over 131mph and the bikes that you and I could buy in the shops lap at an AVERAGE speed of 128mph!! It really does have to be seen to comprehend it!

The video below was an early morning (~5am) run over the Mountain Road. This road is made one way during the TT and is unrestricted in terms of speed for much of the road which means you can really have some fun! Unfortunately some people have too much fun and there were a number of accidents over the mountain this year, with people letting testosterone get the better of them! It’s a brilliant road, one which I put into the same category as the Great Ocean Road around Melbourne or Highway 1 and Highway 101 on the West Coast of the US.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Catching up

A much needed break to the Pyrenees without the distractions of the internet has left me playing catch up today, both in terms of work and, more importantly, Charlton news. I was expecting doom and gloom but I've been pleasantly surprised.

Reports of the pre-season friendly games against both Ipswich Town and AFC Bournemouth have been largely encouraging and it appears that Phil Parkinson is starting to pull things together ahead of the league kick-off on Saturday. Christian Dailly seems a reasonable (if aging) signing, although I must confess to be slightly nervy at the prospect of starting another season with just two recognised centre halves in the squad following Fortune's departure. Is there another one on the way?

Much of the optimism arising from Bournemouth on Saturday seems to be courtesy of the fact that a lot of the players we weren't expecting to be there, were. Believing this is a sign that a takeover is imminent is a dangerous assumption, but it does offer some hope that somebody might be able to pay some wages next season. A midfield ravaged of the talents of Bailey, Shelvey et al. does not bear thinking about.

Credit where credit is due to Parkinson, he is getting on with the job in hand with the resources at his disposal. If you told me at the end of last season that we would see Izale McLeod play again in a Charlton shirt, I probably would have laughed in your face. Parkinson also seems to be shaping his team off the pitch as well with the arrival of Tim Breacker. Regardless of whether you like what you see on the field, you have to admire Parkinson for knuckling down and trying to do something.

So the start of the season is under a week and this kind of time always produces a mixture of emotions. Before I went away I thought that this season was a disaster waiting to happen (and it may well still be), but what I've read on the blogs since I've got back has encouraged me somewhat. Evidently a lot does hinge on whether the takeover happens, but that will have little or no impact on events on the pitch on Saturday. I can't wait.