Saturday, July 31, 2004

Luton 1-1 Charlton

Reports: cafc.co.uk, Luton Today, Sporting Life.

Just over 17 hours after the final whistle at the Priestfield, it was kick-off at Kenilworth Road for the second of Charlton's double-header of friendlies. Would this be better? A lively first few minutes - with Jon Fortune and Jason Euell both coming close to scoring - suggested it would be. Unfortunately, it wasn't much better than the shambles at Gillingham the night before.

Our problem? At Gillingham, our upfront pairing of Lisbie and Bartlett didn't want to know. At Luton, we had a slightly different difficulty with Paolo Di Canio and Jonatan Johansson. Poor JJ looks like he'd rather be somewhere else, anywhere else than on a football field. You really want to go up to him and say, "Are you alright, mate?" He's become the Premiership's weediest striker, and looks like his confidence is far, far behind him.

But his agent says he's happy, so that's alright then.

As for Di Canio - he's still the world's coolest man, but he's slowing up badly. These two games have badly exposed the need for a new striker, and there was only one name on the lips around me in the Hatters' rickety home - Beattie.

As it happened, all our invention came from the midfield. Specifically from out on the wing, where Dennis Rommedahl ran the show. He's a different class, he really is, and the cross he knocked in so Graham Stuart could head our goal in was proof of the man's class. Spare a thought for Luton's Sol Davis, who had to deal with him, and imagine what menace Dennis could wreak with a decent striker...

At the back, Tahal el-Karkouri looked competent enough, but Radostin Kishishev had as big a stinker as JJ did, a second-half mis-kick close to the Luton goal getting ironic cheers as it cannoned into the away end.

Luton weren't quite the side that so nearly dumped us out of the Carling Cup last season - but striker Steve Howard was always a threat. It's hard to think Luton were a top-flight team a couple of decades ago - it's hardly the most enticing of locations. But once again, a lowly team has tamed a Charlton side, and while I know these games are all about fitness and whatever, unless we get at least a striker before the season starts, I don't think I'm the only one who's going to be very worried indeed.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Gillingham 0-0 Charlton

Reports: cafc.co.uk

Well, if you think about it, it wasn't bad value - after all, for £4.70, I got a train from Charlton to Gillingham, which was almost empty, and sat in comfort as it took that roundabout route out through Longfield and Meopham, taking in some very nice scenery. And there was company coming back, so the two hours spent in the care of South Eastern Trains wasn't bad at all.

Unfortunately, there was some right old crap in the middle which set me back £10, watching one of the most toothless Charlton performances I have ever seen against a lively-looking Gillingham side. In fact, it was the worst Charlton performance I have seen since, um, our last visit to Gillingham. And yes, even in the height of summer, that away scaffold feels cold.

Particularly worrying was poor Kevin Lisbie - not my favourite of players, but he was so shockingly poor even he looked disgusted, lolloping around the pitch like a kid who's been told to go to his room and not have any supper for the next 10 years. So bad, I actually felt sorry for him. And I don't think he and a very anonymous Shaun Bartlett thought they were even in the same team.

Jerome Thomas started out strongly but deteriorated during the game, Chris Perry struggled, and our entire midfield seemed to be wondering why they'd been sent here and not to Luton. Mark Fish coming off injured was the cherry on the cake, frankly.

Paul Konchesky didn't stop working, though, and Stephan Andersen put in another good show in goal - despite a foul-up between him and Perry nearly resulting in an own goal.

For the Gills, their strikers Patrick Agyemang and Darren Byfield utterly shamed our pair of plonkers up front. Says it all, really.

If you chose Luton over this rubbish, you chose right. You'll probably get Rommedahl, Di Canio, Euell, the real deal there. But the train journey might not be as nice, though.

Saturday night's alright for fighting watching football

Sky Sports has revealed its plans for televising The Most Exciting League In The World (TM) - of which you can find more details here. Saturday nights may never be the same again.

They include a selected game from that Saturday's programme being replayed at 8.30pm, with extended (50-minute) highlights of every other game being shown from 10.15pm - in much the same way as Sky started running its Champions League games last season. The highlights will run into the night, with the last screening being at 7.30am on Sunday morning. As Sky boss Vic Wakeling says, it's an end to the curse of only having 30 seconds on The Premiership.

But as he isn't saying, it's a step closer to every club's game being shown live as it happens. We're very fond of our 2.30-5.30pm "blackout time" for live football in the UK - which is to protect lower-league clubs' income - but I wonder if that's really effective any more? After all, we all know at least one pub which shows foreign broadcasts of Premiership games, don't we? And surely a game which kicks-off at 12.30pm is as much a deterrent to spending a lazy afternoon at, say, Welling as a TV game which would kick off at 3pm, unless you lived opposite the ground?

I get a nasty feeling we're edging a bit closer towards being a nation of armchair fans - you can see them on football message boards across the internet, talking up the big clubs, ignoring everyone else - thanks to all this extra coverage. Just like almost every other sporting event, there's no substitute for being there and being a part of it. But try telling that to little Johnny walking out of Sports World with his £18 Arsenal shirt, when he could be spending that money with us, or at clubs further down football's food chain, finding out what it's really like.

In the meantime, for those of us who can't or won't cough up for Sky, the BBC's plans for its revamped Match of the Day include proper highlights of each game (I'm guessing Sky's extra cameras will come in handy there), and a Sunday night show with Adrian Chiles. It looks pretty good.

I'm not a big fan of Sky so I'll continue my usual practice of going out, having a drink, socialising, etc on Saturday nights. (Although if anyone who has Sky wants to invite me round on a Saturday when we're on, then, erm...)

Meanwhile, just outside Birmingham... "I think the reasons he's joining us are footballing ones. It's a major coup for this club." I hope Gary Megson's right about Kanu's arrival at West Brom - but I fear he could be being just a tad optimistic there.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Rommedahl's recruitment drive

Now this is what I like to see. He's only been with us a few days, but already Dennis Rommedahl is making his presence felt.

New Charlton signing Dennis Rommedahl wants the club to sign Mark van Bommel from PSV Eindhoven.

Rommedahl, who joined the Addicks from PSV for £2m on 1 July, said: "Van Bommel wants to go and also to England.

"It would be nice if Charlton wanted to buy him, not only for the person he is, but also for the football qualities Van Bommel would bring."
(more)

Everton and Spurs have already been sniffing around the midfielder, who wants to move to a "bigger club" than PSV. Hmmmm... we can offer a "bigger club" than Southampton?

Incidentally, kudos to the club's e-mail bulletin for uncovering these snaps of Rommedahl's wedding from PSV's site. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to extend the warmest of welcomes to Mrs Rommedahl to London. Ahem.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"My transfer hell"


The right words at the right time from Alan Curbishley today, seen here at the Houses of Parliament with some Danish geezer in some new kit - something which seems to have got us a bit of positive press, which is rather good.

"We have been desperately working to bring players in who will make a difference to us. We are looking to strengthen in all positions.

"It has been difficult because the players we have been going for, other people have be looking at them as well, and have found some opposition in some of the things we are trying to do - but we will keep going and vigorously trying to bring some players in."
(more)

And as for Rupert Lowe's comments on us? "I came back to that. I am not quite sure how that came about." See, playing it cool.

Sky Sports News tonight homed in on something that I'm sure has been on the back of a few minds over the past few days - if a vacancy suddenly occurs at the FA over the next couple of weeks, could the England job come calling for Curbishley? In any event, Steve Maclaren's probably the best-placed candidate, but it's still a little worry at the back of my mind.

2-1 at Wycombe tonight - Bryan Hughes getting on the scoresheet and a certain Dennis Rommedahl making his debut. If you went, how was it?

At last! The centenary kit...

And, erm... it's a bit underwhelming. The pix aren't easy to lift for use here, so you'll just have to have a look-see at the splash front page at cafc.co.uk to see for yourself. Go on, have a loook, I'll be back here when you've finished.

Done? Right. I'm no expert on football kits, but is a white sash with 1905-2005 all there is? It does feel like another selection from the Big Joma Book of Kits to me, but with a white sash plonked down the front. And surely we can go two games without having to don an Allsports logo?

Perhaps it'll look better in the flesh, and bearing in mind the horrors worn by many clubs over the years, it could be far worse. But all the "wow, here's the box!" fuss for that? Do me a favour.

It could be so much worse - take a look at this mess which Athletico Bilbao are forcing upon their fans this season.

But then it could be so much better - remember the kits worn for the Fifa anniversary match between France and Brazil earlier this year? And Blackburn came up trumps for their 125th anniversary in 2000, with a sponsor-free 1920s-style kit which was worn for a Division 1 game against Wolves. Instead, we've got something which looks like it's come out of a catalogue. It's disappointing, and just makes it look solely like a money-making exercise. (Which of course, it is, but there has to be at least some sentiment behind it.) I hope the rest of the centenary celebrations won't be wasted like this.

Incidentally, while Charlton are fretting over centenary shirts (and their boxes), a branch of Sports World around the corner - on that stupid "shopping park" behind some wasteland on Woolwich Road - has a big sign in its windows: "NEW ARSENAL KIT - £18". Something tells me our priorities are slightly skewed here.

(Pedant note: You'd think somebody at the club would have worked out its website address by now. cafc.com is owned by a cybersquatting firm in Harrow.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Gravesend & Northfleet 1-1 AFC Wimbledon

Reports: The Big Tissue, AFC Wimbledon, Dons Online (video).

Well, with me unable to make Charlton's game at Wycombe tomorrow, and with Stonebridge Road just half-an-hour away by train, I nipped down into deepest North Kent to check out how the new-look, Ryman League AFC Wimbledon would get on against our Conference neighbours. And they weren't bad at all, Sean Bolger giving the Dons the lead after 16 minutes, one they looked like holding for most of the game, despite an increasing threat from a faster and stronger Gravesend & Northfleet side. In fact, it started out more like a cup tie, with chances flying in from all directions, before settling down to a slightly more ragged pace later on. Ex-Wycombe striker Roy Essandoh got an equaliser after 75 minutes, powerfully heading in from a free-kick, and 1-1 it stayed. The Fleet were the stronger side, with Justin Skinner and Jimmy Jackson pivotal players for them, but the new AFC Wimbledon side that manager Dave Anderson is developing impressed - even if they did resort to the long-ball game later in the match. New Dons keeper Danny Naisbitt kept them in the game a few times - even if some of his kicks later on had a certain Kiely-esque swerve about them as they sailed onto the stand roof.

I've never been to Stonebridge Road before, and I was impressed - a good atmosphere among the 626 there and it's not a bad little ground. Hopefully I'll get a chance to pop back down there some day. Even if they do have the worst, Flash-tastic website I have ever seen. Keep it simple lads, for heaven's sake.

I also took my camera so I could utterly fail to capture any exciting action shots, so on the left is the Fleet mascot scaring some children, and below are AFC Wimbledon celebrating their goal.

Kinsella on the move

Never mind all that Beattie stuff (or the Wiltord rumour the Evening Sub-Standard dug out tonight), what you really want to know is that ex-Addick Mark Kinsella has signed a two-year-deal at Division 2 League One side Walsall, where he'll be teaming up with Paul Merson. This comes after a flirtation with joining Leeds. Sounds like a great deal for the Saddlers - I hope Kins does a good job for them (and his knees hold up...)

Beattie battle is on

Unfortunately for Rupert Lowe, his little outburst (below) came before the media got wind of any offers for his star striker. One man's denial is another man's "come and take him away", and look what The Sun's got hold of...

SPURS and Charlton are locked in another fight for a striker — and this time the target is Southampton hitman James Beattie.

Charlton moved first with a £6m bid for the 26-year-old England star that was turned down.

Spurs are monitoring the Beattie situation with Scottish champs Celtic also showing interest.

Charlton are willing to go to £7.5m and, while Southampton publicly insist they do not want to sell, they are ready to flog him.
(more)

Considering - and this is wild speculation here - Beattie's wage demands probably won't break the bank (Lowe isn't the most generous of characters), I think we should pursue this to the end. A proven Premiership striker? At Charlton? Come on, this is worth splashing out on.

And if we do get him (assuming The Sun's right and were are interested), I'm going to go absolutely wild.

Ru-pert, Rupert laid bare...

It was a high-profile announcement, mostly aimed at people in the south of England, and coming from a surprisingly right-wing administration claiming it was acting upon its people's fears. But forget the government's revamped Protect and Survive palaver, let's listen to the oracle of goodness which is Mr Rupert Lowe, the chairman of MASSIVE Hampshire side Southampton. You know the ones, near Bashley, who play in the Ryman League.

"Today, Friends Provident is one of the...." (more)

Oh, arse, that's an advert. Their website's as bad as their stadium for being filled with pointless ads. But selling your arse makes you a BIG club, of course. Ah, here it is.

"Saints have laughed off speculation linking James Beattie with a move to Charlton. All summer they have been plagued by suggestions that the striker was being lined up by Newcastle." (more)

Plagued? Diddums! But BIG clubs don't get plagued, do they? They just shrug it off and ignore these things. Oh well.

"Depending on which paper you read, Beattie is now supposedly a target for Celtic, Tottenham, and even Charlton." (more)

"And even Charlton". Bless their South Coast socks. So what has the plucky Sponsored Saints' svengali got to say for himself?

Chairman Rupert Lowe said: "We don't want to sell Beattie and we are a bigger club than Charlton so it would not make any sense."
(more)

Of course not. After all, Southampton finished in a mighty 12th, while we made a paltry, erm, 7th. But let's not get the facts in the way. After all, according to the Saints' shit-hot website....

Lowe is currently training with the first team in Sweden but head coach Paul Sturrock said this morning he does not want comment on the other week-end rumours (more)



What, Rupert Lowe's training with the team? Or has this massive club managed to get itself into such a twist, the hot breath of Rupert Lowe burning so deeply on the necks of its press office, they've managed to confuse their boss with James Beattie? (Or maybe they were as tipsy as I was when I wrote the first version of this.) These big, massive clubs, eh? (LATER: Apparently Lowe is actually in the habit of training with his teams. Because that is what happens at Big Clubs. I look forward to David Dein being put through his paces at London Colney soon.) Ooooh, I wish we were one of those, instead of regular relegation favourites now being overshadowed by Portsmouth.

So, Beattie in a Charlton shirt within a fortnight, yes?

Friday, July 23, 2004

Goodbye Claus, hello chaos?

No, I didn't believe it either. It was in the Express for heaven's sake, a joke newspaper! But by 11 o'clock, it most certainly was true.

Of course, it shouldn't have been such a surprise - it's been said Claus didn't expect a fifth year to be added to his contract and was keen on moving on. But it's the sidewards move across town which is surprising. Why Fulham? Well, with Andy "call me Andrew" Cole already in the bag, and Tomasz Radzinski just joined too, perhaps Chairman Mo's chequebook has gone into overdrive. And, given the right management, they're a club with as much potential as us. It does make me question his ambition a little - but there are many worse clubs he could have joined, and it will be interesting to see how he fares there.

Claus certainly goes with my good wishes - despite an increasing tendency to go missing during games (especially after his partner-in-crime Parker went) and his well-known reluctance to put tackles in, he was still a quality player whose crisp passes and cheeky free-kicks will be sorely missed.

That £1.25m will come in handy - but what the hell are we spending this cash on? Cahill's signed at Everton, and the real alarm bells started to ring this afternoon...

West Ham have rejected a bid for Marlon Harewood and Michael Carrick from Premiership new boys Crystal Palace.

The Hammers' website revealed that the £2.5m offer for Carrick was not deemed enough for the ex-England midfielder.

The £1.5m bid for Harewood has been "categorically" rejected because the striker is very much part of manager Alan Pardew's plans for next season.
(more)

For crying out loud, why are we letting Crystal Palace take the initiative over Carrick? What the bloody hell is going on when the piss-poor Nigels try to smoke us out over Carrick, and that doomed, rusty old hulk that is Everton beat us to Cahill? And why were we beaten by Chelsea and Arsenal for the signatures of Kezman and Flamini? If we were serious, would we have even allowed them the opportunity to make an offer? Is our transfer strategy being masterminded by Blackadder's Baldrick and one of his cunning plans?

While Rommedahl, Hughes and El Karkouri are sound players, Jensen's loss makes us feel we're back where we started from at the start of the summer. And we still haven't got a striker yet.

The sun is finally out, the sky is blue, but it seems that little old Charlton still haven't got a clue. I really, really hope I'm wrong and this is another summertime wobble. Patience is still the essential thing to be seen with this summer. But the omens don't feel good tonight.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Today's transfer fun

Kezman

Flamini

Oh well, at least our (reported) transfer targets are joining Big Clubs. And suddenly becoming the best young players in the world, funnily enough.

Cahill

Oh, bugger.

Mind you, it won't have pleased the Spanner I overheard on a Red Arrow bus in the City telling his mate how Cahill was going to stay at the Den. Spoke too soon, pal.

Meanwhile, it sounds as if we should be marketing Charlton-branded deodorants (who knows, in their own presentation box, perhaps?) in China. Losing 6lbs in weight through sweat? Wussses. Clearly, they haven't had the pleasure of visiting the Central Line platforms at Bank station.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The perfect money-making package

Here's the first glimpse of the specially presented plastic bag that will contain Charlton's commemorative 2003-2004 season DVD, as presented to me in the club shop on Monday.

Produced by the sports TV company ISN, to commemorate the 99th season of the Addicks, this unique packaging was a one-off for Inspector Sands, the daftly-pseudonymed writer of All Quiet In The East Stand, the supposedly popular weblog about the club.

The not-very limited edition DVD, which also comes in VHS video cassette format, will be contained within this special presentation box, which can be kept as an additional memento of Charlton's centenary season.

(Bloody hell, why am I writing this piffle? I could be drinking cola with Jonatan Johansson in China, not stuck in here when the sun's just come out.)

The plastic bag has been designed to represent the club logo and that of its sponsor, and kept the packaging dry while the author took a bus to the swimming pool after visiting the club shop. What's more, it can be folded up into a compact space and placed in a container with other plastic bags, for use later, reflecting the durability of the SE7 club over the past 99 years.

The Premier League have given us special dispensation to do this, giving unique commercial enterprises like this their very special backing.

The case is here seen open, and ready for use, and looks as good here in an untidy flat as it would in Kirstie Allsop from Location, Location, Location's house, next to a tube of baby oil, glistening under the (Oh crikey, I can't keep my mind on this, and I've still got the bloody e-mail bulletin to write) in the Essex home of Mr Alan Curbishley, perhaps alongside some memento from his West Ham days.

At present, though, we are not allowed to show you the DVD itself. But rest assured, those of you who have ordered via the club's online superstore will get it first on its launch date, and will have the privilege of being able to complain about it before anybody else.

For more quality goods, click here to visit the club's official website, where we are expecting a new range of centenary mugs to arrive any moment soon.

Red Reg lets rip - kind of

Apparently, Peter Varney's been in the Kent Messenger newspaper, something not available here in Charlton, saying this....

"...we will not be making a signing through the media. That's why supporters get frustrated because they see this club have signed him and that club have signed someone else. But I would say that you probably haven't seen the name of the player we do want to sign." (more)

Credit to Netaddicks regular Valley McMoist for passing that on to fans of a south London club who actually live in, erm, south London. It's not the first time the Kent press has had decent CAFC material you just can't get this side of the M25.

I'm not sure to be more frustrated with the press office for giving the Kent papers the best material, or with the piss-poor papers in South East London for not getting off their arses and hunting for stories. It's probably a bit of both, since the local rags around here are as toothless as the elderly readers they aim at.

But all that aside, Varney's got a fair point - and I'm just hoping he's not desperately trying to cover up an "erm, we don't have a plan to sign anyone else..." policy. But it blows the speculation wide open, and keeps my little hope that we'll sign James Beattie (come on, recognised Premiership striker, could do with a career-enhancing sidewards move) alive.

Taking of crap papers, here's some mildly patronising rubbish from the Evening Sub-Standard. But what's Reg talking about here?

"The Premier League needs to be branded and if we do that then all the clubs will benefit, rather than the cream. I'd like to see a more socialist type approach because we will all benefit from that." (more)

A socialist-type approach? Now you're talking. The spirit of Bill Shankly is alive and well and touring China.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

JJ "not at Norwich" shock

Okay, maybe being off work with the lurgy today has left me over-bored and with too much time on my hands, but with Norwich fans seemingly convinced that Jonatan Johannson is going to the Canaries, and cafc.co.uk accidentally fuelling the rumour fires by leaving the debonair Finn's name off the list of players on the list of players on the tour, should we read something into the website's choice of bicycle-kicking dining companion for Radostin Kishishev in this otherwise innocuous story from Shenzhen? "Here you go, JJ, sit yourself here..." I probably am, really.

But expecting him to roll up at Carrow Road for talks tomorrow does seem a little unlikely... indeed, JJ's agent, one Richard Cody, has just denied the story, presumably after checking those flight times just in case.

"JJ is very happy with life at The Valley.

"He wants to play for Charlton and help them achieve their goals next season.

"He has one year left with an option for another, and so there is no rush for him."
(more)

Which must be true - when was the last time you saw JJ in a rush over anything?

Konch committed

The South London Press says Paul Konchesky's finally going to come off the transfer list when the China tour is over. This time last year, Konch was making a right berk of himself, making all sorts of claims, like his modest suggestion he could function as England's left-back. Right.

Twelve months ago, of course, Konch was a villain, demanding he leave because he couldn't get his own way, and his fellow youth team product, one S. Parker, was a hero, because he simply knuckled down and got on with it. Konch's form dropped, and he was farmed out to Spurs. Parker's form soared, and he, erm, pissed off and left us.

So, what of young Konchesky? He reluctantly came back from Spurs - where he did alright, but Dirty David Pleat didn't show him much commitment - but kept his head down and got on with his game. His agent Andrew Mills appears to have shut up as well.

Konch seems to be getting back into form, and we're back to where he was last year. Not a great player, but a good player who still has bags of potential. Oh, and the whole episode enabled us to pick up Chris Perry for a song. That alone is worth thanking Konchesky for. I hope the SLP's right and he stays with us to realise his full potential.

The Sky Sports website reckons we're taking a couple of Hungarians on trial.

Monday, July 19, 2004

The Chinese view

Nothing new in it, but you might be interested in the Shenzhen Daily's report on Charlton's arrival in China.

Paolo di-stay-at-home

Charlton Athletic ace Paolo Di Canio is doubtful for the start of the new season after pulling out of the club's pre-season tour of China.

The Italian star has been forced to withdraw from the squad for the trip to the Far East with stomach problems.
(more)

Of course, I'm sure the fact that Paolo hates flying has nothing to do with it... the more curious thing is, of course, why isn't JJ in China either? (Duuuh, the club website left his name off the list of players there, he's on it now...)

cafc.co.uk at least seems to be doing the business from Shenzhen, hopefully we'll at least get a little bit of TV coverage out of it too. Even if Shenzhen appears, from the pictures at least, to make Thamesmead look a place of outstanding natural beauty.

Kanu's Nigerian scam

I'll tell you when a snub isn't a snub. It's when it comes from a player looking for a final lap to boost his pension.

Remember when Oleg Luzhny's agent tried to hang around us like a bad smell last summer? "Oleg would like to stay in London. He very much enjoys London and playing in the Premiership," said Mr Luzhny's personal leech, looking for another club to treat like a load of mugs. He went to Wolves in the end. And we all know what happened to them.

Altogether now, ho, ho, ho.

Over a year later, there's news from another graduate of Mr Wenger's north London academy. Kanu's agent, one Paul Okoye, has "revealed" that West Brom have bettered terms which he reckons Charlton have offered his increasingly irrelevant player. In your dreams, sunshine.

What, a knackered player heading off to a ready-for-the-slaughter West Midlands side because he can't get a deal in London? You stun me, Mr Okoye.

Now, I actually had Kanu down as a decent chap who does a lot of good work for charidee. Which he actually does. And he is only 28. But let's savour in this sentence from Mr Okoye, which shows our fella's true colours.

""They have offered better money and I believe Kanu, who is determined to stay in the Premiership, will go to the team who offers the best deal." (more)

So, even if we had offered Kanu something (denied 5 weeks ago), one year of bleeding some relegation favourites dry is going to be a better deal? This is more laughable than any Nigerian 419 scam.

Actually, I'd be surprised if he went to West Brom, bearing in mind the rather familiar caution with which that club has been run over the past few years. But bearing in mind Kanu's lack of form at Arsenal lately, and his wage demands, I'd rather he and his bloody agent stayed a long way away from us as well.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Not about Charlton...

...but still very funny. Franchise FC's new website, MK Dongs.

Or you could always check out the AFC Wimbledon musical, A Fans' Club.

And it's nothing to do with football, but do a good community deed and vote for Severndroog Castle on BBC2's Restoration programme - 09011 33 22 22.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

And you thought Ron Noades was bad...

Disturbing news from down at the Palace, where Simon Jordan is thinking of selling out to... Libya's military dictator Colonel Gaddafi.

No, I can't top that with any jokes, although please feel free to have a try.

Welling United 0-8 Charlton Athletic

Reports: cafc.co.uk, Welling United, BBC Sport, South London Press.
Could anyone remember such a thumping start to our pre-season? No. For those who moaned on a well-known message-board about the £10 entry fee, it was a festival of goals only a churlish moaner would have complained about. And what's more, the skies cleared to allow us all to pretend, at least for the first half, that it was one of those pleasant Saturday afternoons these games usually take place on.
 
We scored eight, and it could have been many more were it not for a fine performance from Wings keeper Martin Brennan, substituted 12 minutes from the end to a standing ovation. Luckily for the Conference South side, he'd signed a contract with the club just before the game.
 
Welling gave us the room to move - and, surprisingly, we used the full width of the pitch for once, in a game chock-full of hopeful omens for the new season. Jason Euell scored two in the first half, with Graham Stuart scoring the third thanks to a pass from a deeply tanned Paolo Di Canio. Our first half midfield also had a few surprises, with an assured performance from Neil McCafferty which seemed to be inspired by a certain other young midfielder who used to ply his trade at The Valley until recently. Jerome Thomas also showed us what he's capable of - hopefully both will get their chance in the first team, although Danish international duo Claus Jensen and Dennis Rommedahl were missing from the line-up.
 
Fellow Dane Stephan Andersen did make the trip to Park View Road, and his athleticism wowed in the second half. Dean Kiely has some serious competition. This being Welling, and me being at the park end, I didn't see too much of the second half, other than to report that the debonair Jonatan Johanssen scored twice, Lloyd Sam and Jamal Campbell-Ryce got one apiece in the space of seven minutes, and Stacy Long grabbed our eighth. By which time, attention was moving towards the gang of kids behind Andersen's goal teasing the stewards by threatening to invade the pitch.
 
Which they did at full-time - just as Welling friendly tradition demands. Although I blame the Millwall fans, like the one in the picture on the right. Bloody kids - wouldn't catch me on the... erm, ah, never mind.

As for the game itself, we broke with the past and looked convincing and confident. Bryan Hughes looked particularly good. Tahar El-Karkouri looked alright, although I didn't catch that much of him to be honest. But there seemed to be a bit of - gasp! - desire about the place. Touch wood and cross your fingers - this could be a good sign.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to gaze at my 2004/2005 season ticket once more.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Telling tales

So we've gone to the Premier League over our dealings with Chelsea - and it sounds like we've disobeyed the First Rule of Modern Football - treat anything Peter Kenyon says with the contempt it deserves.
 
We were given a categorical assurance on July 6th by Peter Kenyon that Carlton Cole would not be loaned to another Premiership club following his decision not to return to Charlton," said Addicks chief executive Peter Varney, responding to questions from fans confused by the current situation.
 
"We were therefore very disappointed and angry to learn from the media and the Aston Villa and Chelsea websites that he had joined Villa on loan, and that Father Christmas doesn't exist."
(more)
 
Of course, I can't help shift the impression that the only time Peter Kenyon could ever be trusted is when he's dead and buried, because at least you'll be able to rely on him to push up the daisies.
 
But while he's rolling in oil money, plotting revenge for what must have been a cruel childhood, he's not worth the time of day.
 
For Kenyon's part, he does say...
 
"He said: "We are disappointed with the comments from Charlton about this matter.

"We are confident that Chelsea has conducted itself properly in all aspects of the transaction."
(more)
 
That aside, we're a club with a board which acts like gentlemen, and they will no doubt be studying the small print of the Parker deal, which was actually completed two days before Kenyon joined the club. Yet Chelsea even announced a second year of Cole's loan on its website (see bottom paragraph here). So what the hell has happened?
 
In the meantime, there's something a bit unedifying about us running to the Premier League, which probably doesn't give a toss so long as the cash keeps rolling in. But it probably has to be done, before m'learned friends get involved.
 
But there will be hell to pay if we screwed up that part of the Parker contract - because at the moment, I'm getting a nasty feeling we're being made to look like boys among men.
 
One hundred and twenty miles up the M1, meanwhile, an ex-Charlton player is saying he moved to Aston Villa to turn his life around.
 
"You can get fake friends around you in football and I think it is a good thing for me to come up here and just concentrate solely on football."  (more)
 
As opposed to group sex in hotels, we can only presume. Cristal, anyone?
 
Also in the Brum press - a confident-sounding story about West Brom being interested in Rob Earnshaw. This has been going around for a while, but yesterday's Evening Mail seemed pretty much convinced. So naturally, today's Western Mail in Cardiff starts drooling. Are West Brom really going to beat everyone else to him?

The big club

Well, Marseille seem to think we're pretty close to getting midfielder Mathieu Flamini.

"Pour l'instant, il n'est pas là et je dois faire avec. L'OM ne mourra pas si Mathieu s'en va et je lui souhaite de faire une grande carrière dans un grand club comme Charlton… Je ne lui en veux pas car c'est encore un enfant." (more)

See? It said we're a "big club". Even if he is taking the mickey, it made me smile.

Which, as much as Chris Powell is an absolute gentleman and scholar, excited me much more than that bloody newsflash about him staying on at Charlton.

In the kingdom of the blind...

Someone was very kind enough to post the address of this site to the club's unofficial mailing list, praising my view of the Cole fiasco as a "decent write-up" of it. For which, I am very grateful.

The first response?

"Why are we harping on about this w**ker who doesn`t want to play for us, which is just as well `cos we don`t want him to play for us. Can we move on?"

Which, of course, misses the point that we've possibly been made to look like mugs over a loan deal, about a situation we should have known about weeks ago. Whether the player was a useless or not, it doesn't matter.

Would there be this sniping if, say, we'd lost Mikael Forsell to Villa? No. There'd be outrage. And we should be outraged here. This isn't about the failings of one player, it's about how the club conducts itself.

If somebody can point out to me the plaintive pleas from me for Cole to come back, I'll gladly give them my Welling ticket for Friday. But instead, sad old prejudice gets in the way.

But then again, that's the mailing list all over. Forget worrying about how the club's conducting itself, let's have a cheap shot at a player who disappeared off into the sunset weeks ago, making our club look rather stupid.

If this is the cream of the club's fans, and the scrutiny they're going to put the club under, we might as well give up and go home now.

Welling await

Bearing in mind we only scraped a 1-1 draw against them last pre-season, All Quiet In The East Stand thought it was time to properly suss out Charlton's opposition on Friday night - our neighbours Welling United, who start this season as founder members of Conference South.

Thanks to Wings on the Web regular Frisby for letting us in on what's up in the Hobbins empire...


It's back to familiar territory for The Wings this season, with a much welcome return to the Conference - well, Conference South -after four years in the Dr Martens Premier Division.

As usual, Welling didn't make things easy for themselves gaining promotion, and the fans had to suffer the stress of a last minute goal in injury time when a win would have seen promotion at the last home game of the season.

Oh well, two more chances to sew it up, and our next chance was at Hednesford (where those of us unable to attend kept track via updates on the Welling message boards!) More drama followed as there was a floodlight failure, and it was all getting a bit too scary, when the awesome man-mountain Phil Collins (no, not THAT one, although we did have a Mike Rutherford on our books too at one stage) hammered home the winner and secured our Conference future.

Our pre-season period has seen a few changes, one of the saddest departures being that of Anthony Riviere (Rivs) who was one of the club's most talented players and has now gone to join Fisher Athletic.

One of the things we all will miss is the rendition of his song - to the tune of Volare in the same way as Arsenal fans sing "Viera...Oh Oh Oh Oh...!" Only our version included the classic line... "Riviere Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh...he comes from Cat...ford....he plays for Well...ing...". Maybe you had to be there.

We have also had a large influx of players from our old rivals Dover Athletic, including Jamie Day and Lee Spiller. Current members of the squad who will be staying include Paul Booth (never misses!) Phil Collins (hard man!) and Lew Watts ("Bud Boy" who can drink anyone under the table!).

And just to remind you who's had the most silverware lately, Frisby thoughtfully provides a list...

1985/86 Southern League Champions
1985/86 and 1998/99 Kent Senior Cup Winners
1989/90 London Senior Cup Winners
1991/92 London Challenge Cup Winners

The latest from Welling on tickets - "Seating and Stand tickets are very limited and are not guaranteed on the night, however there will be tickets available for the terracing areas."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Carlton's bad reception

"I am aware that our supporters are expecting to see Carlton Cole to return to the club on loan for 2004/5.

"The announcement by Aston Villa and Chelsea that they have agreed a year's loan is premature and I do not wish to make any further comments at this time."
(more)

You know something's up when Peter Varney speaks. With Chelsea confirming the deal from their end after earlier hesitation ("on Monday evening, Chelsea was [sic] able to confirm that the move will go ahead"), there's the sad sight of Charlton being totally overtaken by events. A glance at Cole posing with a Villa shirt seems to be proof of that.

Which shouldn't have happened, with Cole's agent talking four weeks ago about him not coming back to Charlton, what have we been doing since then? Sitting on our arses doing nothing? This would only come as a surprise to the slowest of our fans - yet it seems to have taken Charlton completely unawares.

It's not a good situation. It doesn't bode well for our transfer dealings this summer.

There may well be a second part to Peter Varney's statement he cannot say yet. Let's not rule that out yet. Clearly, there's more to be said, whatever happens.

But we've managed to make a player who's been a let-down on the pitch make us look like mugs off it. And if you think it doesn't matter because Cole wasn't disappointing on the pitch - something which applies to much of the unofficial mailing list, a dismal representation of the club's support - you're a bigger mug than anyone at the club could be.

We mustn't let this happen again.

In the meantime, I'm preparing a Flamin' headline for later in the week.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Cole means balls

So, would somebody at Charlton like to step forward and tell us what the bloody hell has gone on with Carlton Cole? Or maybe the silence coming out of The Valley and Sparrows Lane means the club doesn't know what's going on either?

It wasn't much of a surprise to learn that Cole was being loaned out by Chelsea to Aston Villa for the forthcoming season - the rumours had been doing the rounds for ages.

What was a surprise is that Charlton said nothing about it - despite the clear-as-crystal fact that Cole was meant to stay with us this season (see the last paragraph here) as part of the Parker transfer.

You may have thought Cole was a lazy pile of crap. Certainly, I thought Charlton fans were too quick to get on his back after a nightmare season - you try being called a rapist by a national newspaper, and having paparazzi on your back. (Brummie slappers, get ready for a fat press payday.)

But whatever you thought of Cole, a couple of questions need answering. Because the club's conduct over the past couple of weeks is starting to become worrying.

1) Who decided the loan agreement would be cancelled, when, and why? All we have here is a quote from Jonathan Barnett, Cole's agent, to the Press Association on 18 June saying he'd be unlikely to go back to Charlton. At the time, Curbs said the situation was "a bit clouded". I doubt that a loan deal to Villa will have secured Mr Barnett the payday he appeared to be angling for at the time.

2) What are we getting from Chelsea instead, since they aren't honouring part of the Parker transfer deal? At one point, the theory went, we could drop Cole and perhaps take another Chelsea player instead. While the Bank of Abramovich is there, we may as well use it - so what are we going to do about it?

Of course, it's possible the situation remained "clouded" until today (tonight, Chelsea say the deal isn't 100% done). But for heaven's sake, he's still listed as a player on cafc.co.uk, which is saying nothing about the whole fiasco. Why has the departure of one of our players not even been mentioned on the club's site?



There could be sensible reasons for all this. Maybe there's an announcement on its way tomorrow to make all this irrelevant. But right now, it looks like the club is being overtaken by events - something we can't afford to be in the unsavoury world of the Premiership. And the longer the club appears to be hiding something from fans, the bigger the risk to its relationship with its fans.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Enormous transfer shock

Another bit of the jigsaw falls into place.

Charlton have captured their fourth new signing of the summer - Morocco international Talal el Karkouri. The central defender put pen to paper on a three-year deal on Sunday, and moves from Paris St Germain in a deal worth £1m. (more)

Forget all that though, does anybody else think that Karkouri's first club, Raja Casablanca, has one of the finest names in world football?

So now the messing about is over - and we're into the unknown from now onwards. Hopefully we'll get some new names on board before Friday night's trip to Welling - there's nothing like a trip to China for a spot of bonding!

The man with a plan

Curbs is in today's Sunday Mirror steadying our pulses - another deal is to be announced this week, with two more players also being targeted. Or, in his own words:

"There is one more deal which will be finalised this week and I still want to get another two players before the start of the season." (more)

That player is probably Talal El Karkouri, of course. Jason Koumas and Tomasz Radzinski now top today's list of names linked with us. Curious. (The Mirror had Radzinski going to Fulham yesterday.) Incidentally, Cardiff's Western Mail and Wales on Sunday seem obsessed with the idea of Robert Earnshaw going to West Brom, with a risible story earlier in the week and this one today. Why would a Welsh rag have such good contacts at West Brom? Could this story be being punted about to whip up more interest in the goofy forward?

Of course, a new move for Cahill can't be moved out, particularly as many Millwall fans were convinced he'd be on his way to us in the first place. A theory I've heard twice this weekend involves the Australian being moved to Palace in an old mates deal between Paphitis and Jordan, who are closer than their "Crippled Alice" spat would have you believe. So, if we take that aspect to be true, I'd have been very wrong about poor relations between Millwall and Palace for a start, and what's to stop an agent bunging a demand for a fat fee on top of the deal to wreck it?

Finally, if you were upset that Mateja Kezman had been targeted by an Eastern European gangster... you'd be right.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Cahill and his greedy agent

Ah, Tim Cahill's gravy train to Norwood Junction has stopped at the signals...

Eagles chairman Simon Jordan refused to pay £125,000 to the 24-year-old midfielder's management company SFX.

Jordan told The Sun: "The agent asked for 5% on top - about £125,000.

"I told him he doesn't work for me but for the player, and to take the money out of his wages."
(more)

SFX, eh? The firm which did such good work for Spotty Parker earlier this year. Suddenly, it comes clear why we didn't jump for Cahill. Possibly for the first and only time on this website, well done to Simon Jordan. You can see why he's talked about quitting.

As for us, it just shows patience and the art of Zen are what you need round The Valley this summer.

By the way, today's summer transfer guide in the Independent links us with Frederic Kanoute as well as Robert Earnshaw and Thomas Gravesen.

A word on Sean Davis

In case you're upset we didn't sign Sean Davis from Fulham, here's an anecdote which has gone around Craven Cottage for ages now, which shows why he'll be such a great asset to Spurs.

Sean Davis is walking, slightly the worse for wear, along the road after yet another boozy night out.

"Want a lift?", said the driver.

"Naaah...sallrightmate"

"Come on, get in, I'll drive you home", the car driver reaffirmed.

"'sallright mate... I'm fine"

To which Fulham fitness coach Roger Propos replied: "Sean. Get in the fucking car."

Friday, July 09, 2004

Paolo's birthday present

It's a big, soppy, All Quiet In The East Stand happy 36th birthday to Paolo Di Canio...



... who has marked his big day by making it clear he isn't returning to Lazio, despite some of the rather desperate reports of the past couple of weeks. It's good to hear.

But in case you need convincing of the Lazio ultras' love for Paolo, click here.

A landmark day for All Quiet In The East Stand too - which soared past 20,000 page views in just over three months early this morning. This is the 100th post, and today's just become the most-viewed day on the site.

Now all I need is some bloody news to report...

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Cahill to Crippled Alice

"Why on earth would he choose Crystal Palace over Charlton?"

And that wasn't even the view of a Charlton fan, but one of a neutral colleague of mine when I let forth a horrible wailing noise this lunchtime. But Tim Cahill really is on his way to Crystal Palace, and it's our second transfer letdown in a week - especially since the move had looked pretty likely for the past few months, with Aston Villa providing the only serious competition.

It looks pretty crap all around - Millwall will probably be unhappy with the mooted £2m fee, and considering they hate the stripey Nigels more than they hate us (remember Theo's "Crippled Alice" attack?), there won't be much pride among the Lions tonight.

(And, oh dear, the knives are out for Mr Paphitis on the cave-dwellers' Rivals.net board - providing a distraction from the usual open-minded, high-class chat.)

But let's look at this closely. The general consensus was that the £4m figure bandied around was way too much. We weren't the only club in the chase - as well as Villa, Everton were sniffing around. And he chooses to go to relegation favourites over anybody else. Perhaps Simon Jordan is brandishing the chequebook weapon for short-term survival, long-term insolvency.

Or perhaps he just wasn't good enough for us. I hope so, because I'm becoming a little pessimistic about our plans to get in all these new players right now.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Rowett's unlucky 13

It's a shame Gary Rowett wasn't given a real chance to prove himself at Charlton in the two years he was here - he was more familiar with the treatment table than The Valley as he struggled to make 13 matches before his retirement was announced yesterday, possibly the worst-kept secret in English football. Indeed, Rowett seems to have headed off long ago, bearing in mind the lack of quotes from him issued by the club.

No wonder Alan Curbishley is "gutted" - he blew £3.5m on a player who ended up with a dodgy knee (a million was lost in the insurance write-down a few months back) after coveting for two years. You could see why - he an archetypal Curbishley choice, unassuming, quietly competent, got down to the job without fuss.

But the way the club's handled this - and a few other matters during the close season - raises a few questions about Charlton's press operation. Rowett's retirement appears to have been well-known for weeks (if not months) - so why only release the news now? Why no statement from the man himself? It all seems a bit strange. Heavens, we've had so many long-term crocks lately the website needs its own treatment room section.

Stranger still was the infamous appearance - then disappearance - of the Rommedahl transfer confirmation, and Sky's fixture list. The latter can be put down to embargo-breaking cock-up, but what of the former?

I actually think Charlton's press operation do a damn good job - many of the more vocal moaners among the fans don't seem to realise they get most news about the club before the national media. Only the Scott Parker transfer has been an exception to this rule recently (and even then it appeared on the website soon after the Press Association flashed it). The programme remains one of the few interesting reads in the Premiership as well.

But - as has been pointed out elsewhere today - they're aided by general disinterest from the national press and a hopeless, toothless local media.

(You wonder what would happen if we suffered a serious dip in form - would we return to being relegation fodder, or would the media start to question Curbishley's tactics? You can bet your life it won't be the latter.)

But by appearing to hold back on the news of Rowett's injury, and cocking up things like the Rommedahl story, the club's press office risks making the club look shifty and dishonest to its fans. With so many very poor websites printing with any old crap around - and so much being made of single-paragraph stories on Sunday Mirror - it's important the press office is seen to be straight with supporters.

Because if it isn't, it risks the reputation of the club as a whole, and the open relationship with its fans - and that's something that's too good to lose.

(Meanwhile, for a crystal clear example of how not to deal with the press, look for the idiot who signed Wayne Rooney up with The Sun...)

Monday, July 05, 2004

Greece lightning


Despite the efforts of Peter Kenyon and Clive Tyldesley, a small team can win something! Blimey.

Although it could be argued that the weakness of some of the bigger nations' teams are down to the strength of their leagues - and the number of foreigners playing in their club sides. Kenyon, you reap what you sow. Although since he's reaping so much cash, he probably doesn't care.

All that aside, here's a very long interview with Bryan Hughes, in which he says he saw Julian Gray as a threat to his place at Birmingham.

And beyond that, it's nice to see the ludicrous Football League re-organisation has created an opening for sharp-eyed Division 2 fans to set up their own, erm, Coca-Cola League One website. Although it's enough to drive me to Pepsi Rola Sainsburys Mecca Cola, myself.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Back on the Rumour Mill

Five Live's Rumour Mill rates a Charlton bid for James Beattie - scuppering a £7m bid from Newcastle - as its third most-likely bit of tittle-tattle of the week. Hmmmm...

Friday, July 02, 2004

Kezman fact of the day

Chelsea are delighted to announce that we have agreed a transfer fee with PSV Eindhoven for Mateja Kezman.

Chief executive Peter Kenyon said: "We are delighted to have agreed terms with PSV for Mateja. He is one of the top strikers in Europe and will be an excellent addition to our squad and team."
(more)

That's an odd buy for Chelsea - especially, as Stuart points out in the comments below, as Jose Mourinho only wants 21 players in his squad. Are they doing to us with Kezman what they did to Manchester United over Arjen Robben?

Still, dry your eyes, there's plenty more fish in the sea.

Kezman rumour of the day

This could all be rubbish, of course, but...

Mateja Kezman je u Moskvi. Sportske vesti su prve saznale ovu vest, a nas sjajni napadac i zvanicno nam je potvrdio ovu vest.
- Istina je. Blizu sam dogovora sa Spartakom.
(more)

Which in any language, appears to mean "Mateja Kezman is going to Spartak Moscow", according to Sky Sports.

"I am very near to a transfer to Spartak Moscow," Kezman told sportskevesti.com. "They are a big club with great expectations for this year.

"There were some other offers, but Fulham and Fiorentina failed to meet my personal demands."
(more)

Since when did Fulham come into this? They haven't got two pennies to rub together, have they? This is going to run for a while yet.

Those Sky dates in full

As confirmed by Sky, here's the line-up of Charlton games which will be televised by Sky Sports and on pay-per-view in the first half of the season.

SEPTEMBER
Mon 13 Sep - Charlton vs. Southampton (8 pm)
Mon 27 Sep - Charlton vs. Blackburn (8 pm)
OCTOBER
Sun 17 Oct - Charlton vs. Newcastle (4.05 pm)
Sat 23 Oct - Liverpool vs. Charlton (5.15 pm)
NOVEMBER
Sat 20 Nov - Man United vs. Charlton (ppv - 12.45pm)
DECEMBER
Sun 5 Dec - Crystal Palace vs. Charlton (4.05 pm)
Mon 20 Dec - Charlton vs. Fulham (8 pm)

Surprised at the number of Monday games - I thought Monday games would be a thing of the past under the new contract. That Palace date still seems unwise to me - if ever one of our games needed a noon kick-off, it's that one. That Manchester United game's a pain in the arse too - 12.45 kick-off? A weekend on Merseyside seems to beckon as well. The joys of the moneybags Barclays Premiership circus.

Romme-done!

Finally! Dennis Rommedahl has signed for us.



Alan Curbishley managed to beat off competition from many other clubs - including one other Premiership side - to secure the services of the winger on Thursday afternoon when the deal, worth £2m, was finalised. (more)

Now, bearing in mind those pictures of him with a Charlton shirt had appeared briefly on the club's website on Wednesday, I wonder which team had turned his head - if that was the case at all?

In any case, our esteemed chairman is bang on the money here. Which we all knew anyway...

This is a tremendous signing for Charlton Athletic," said chairman Richard Murray. "Dennis is a proven world-class player, and for us to beat off competition from other clubs in the Premiership and across Europe is a real coup.

"Furthermore, to sign someone of such renown can only help us as we attempt to bring in other players of similar quality to The Valley."
(more)

Now, who could you possibly be talking about here?

PSV voorzitter Harry van Raaij heeft vanavond een 'positief gesprek' gevoerd met een Engelse club over een mogelijke transfer van Mateja Kezman. De onderhandelingen daarover zijn nog niet afgerond, maar PSV en de Engelse partij zijn wel nader tot elkaar gekomen. (more)

Or... "PSV President Harry van Raaij have vanavond 'positief gesprek' conducted with an English club concerning a possible transfer of Mateja Kezman. The negotiations about that have been not yet wound up, but PSV and the English party have, however, more closely reached each other."

Let's hope it's us doing the close reaching here...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Hughes anti-climax

And then... ping! my e-mail sprang to life.

Bryan Hughes has been confirmed as Charlton's second summer capture after signing a three-year deal.

The midfielder has switched on a Bosman free transfer following the expiry of his contract at Birmingham City.


Is that it? Come on, you can do better than that! Having said all that, the man who arrives without fanfare has the greater capability to surprise, and he'll probably be our top scorer next season, so welcome aboard.

Ah, it's just stopped raining.

Born on the 1st of July

Oh, come come now. This is just cruel. Nothing coming out of the club about any confirmed transfers, and then there's these pages keeping on appearing on cafc.co.uk, then disappearing. The speculation on Netaddicks gets more demented by the minute, and then I read...

ALAN CURBISHLEY is hoping to beef up his Charlton midfield by signing Thomas Gravesen from Everton.

The Valley manager turned his attention to Gravesen after a
£2million bid for PSV’s fellow Danish international Dennis Rommedahl hit a snag.
(more)

No Rommedahl? Whaaaa'? Ah, yes, sorry, it's in The Sun. Can you imagine Gravesen playing for us, though? I can't. Maybe he's Curbs' second target, maybe it's a ploy to get the t's crossed and the i's dotted with the Rommedahl deal. Curious thought, though.

So then we turn to the Mirror and...

CHARLTON boss Alan Curbishley is plotting a cut-price offer for England penalty flop Darius Vassell.

Aston Villa forward Vassell has failed to produce top form at club level over the past two seasons but Curbishley believes he can bring the best out of him.
(more)

I think Vassell's ace, although I have a nagging feeling he'd probably turn into complete crap if he came to us, since he can hardly turn it on for Villa. Although, once we get a decent midfield to give our strikers some decent service, who knows?

Incidentally, if it really is true we're playing Crystal Palace away as a 4.05pm kick-off on a Sunday, then get ready for all police leave in south London to be cancelled that day - or the match being moved to midday. That could have the potential to be nasty as a 4pm game.