Sunday, April 30, 2006

The morning after the night before

No, it wasn't all a weird dream. Charlton fans woke up this morning (or in my case, this afternoon) to the reality that Curbs really is leaving us. He's insistent he just wants a break - I wonder how he'll feel about that when the new season kicks off and he's not involved? Or maybe he really will take a bit of a holiday, catch some sun, perhaps brother Bill needs somebody to sell some beer at gigs? Like he said, he's been clapped out of the front door, and so can live life like a king for a bit. Good on you, Curbs.

But won't somebody think of the children? We need a new dad. Here's a few names to prompt a bit of thought. I'd love to see the applications Richard Murray's going to have to sift through...

Adrian Boothroyd - 35-year-old Watford manager who's taken the Hornets to the play-offs in his first full season in charge. They've been playing some good football, and he's surely bound for bigger things.

Mark Bowen - Mark Hughes' assistant at Blackburn who shares the credit for Rovers' recent revival. Used to be assistant boss at Birmingham - who slumped after he left. Does he fancy a step up?

Iain Dowie - 41-year-old Crystal Palace manager. Took the Beagles up after they looked dead and buried, could well repeat that feat this season. It'd annoy Simon Jordan, at least.

Billy Davies - Preston's manager has guided the famous old club into the play-offs two seasons in a row. The 41-year-old ex-Rangers player also nearly took Motherwell into Europe while in charge there.

Kevin Blackwell - Used to be Neil Warnock's right-hand man at Sheffield United, now he's on the brink of restoring Leeds' Premiership status. The 48-year-old has done a fine job in rebuilding the shattered club. Who would you rather work with - Ken Bates or Richard Murray?

Mick McCarthy - Ex-Ireland boss who took Sunderland back into the Premiership, but may as well not have bothered, and broke into management at Millwall. The 47-year-old still lives in Bromley. Pops up occasionally at The Valley, most recently before the Portsmouth game.

Phil Parkinson - Ex-Reading player who has had a storming season in League One with Colchester United. He's 38 and has a full set of Uefa coaching badges. And a degree in social sciences. Could still take the U's into the Championship yet.

George Burley - A hero at Ipswich as a player and manager, walked out on Derby in odd circumstances, and achieved wonders at Hearts before falling foul of the loony in charge at Tynecastle. Now at Southampton, the 49-year-old would surely be keen on returning to a proper club and some familiar faces.

Steve Tilson - Back-to-back promotions with Southend - the Shrimpers were a fourth division basket case when he arrived in 2003, they'll be a Championship side next season. The 39-year-old has possibly done the most impressive job of any manager in the country this season.

Peter Taylor - The man who made David Beckham England captain, had a successful spell at Leicester and currently pulling in the crowds at Hull City. Does the 53-year-old fancy a return to the Premiership?

Ian Holloway - Much-liked former QPR manager, who left the Super Hoops after being linked with the Leicester job. He's still out of work, and football is sorely missing the 43-year-old's way with words. Imagine him at The Valley...

Martin Allen - 40-year-old Brentford manager best known for his straight-taking attitude. Also managed Barnet when they were in the Conference, but does he have the aptitude (or the badges) to take on a bigger side?

Peter Reid - Successful as Manchester City and Sunderland boss in the late 1990s, but seemed to have an attraction to disaster zones after that. The 49-year-old has unhappy spells at a free-falling Leeds and an imploding Coventry City under his belty.

Glenn Hoddle - God-bothering tosser who's about to be sacked by Wolves. The 49-year-old screwed up his England job when he made stupid comments about disabled people deserving their predicament from a previous life. Also screwed up at Spurs. Great player, crap manager. We'd be better off with John Gorman.

Brian Kerr - Former Irish manager, however the 53-year-old has no English club experience.

Les Reed - Curbs' former right-hand man until the play-off win, when he joined the FA as a technical director. He left in 2004 and has worked with Charlton recently.

Mike Newell - 41-year-old Luton boss who definitely doesn't like a bung. Put the Hatters back into the Championship last season.

Steve Cotterill - Worked wonders at Cheltenham, taking them up from the Southern League to League One in five years. Copybook blotted by disasterous spell as Howard Wilkinson's assistant at Sunderland. He's 41 and is now in charge of Burnley.

Roy Hodgson - 58-year-old former Blackburn manager, best-known for his work outside England leading teams such as Udinese, Grasshoppers, Halmstads, Malmo, and Neuch√Ętel Xamax. Took over the Swiss national side in 1992, is now in charge of Finland's Euro 2008 campaign.

A current Premiership boss? Steve Coppell (50, out of contract at Reading, see The Sun), Chris Coleman (35, Fulham boss for three seasons), Paul Jewell (41-year-old Wigan manager).

Or looking abroad? I know Richard Murray's said he'd rather have a British manager, but there's... Alberto Zaccheroni (53, ex Udinese, AC Milan, and Lazio boss, out of work), Claudio Raineri (54, Valencia boss, spent four years as Chelsea's tinkerman before getting the Abramovich boot)

George Graham - Another ex-Millwall manager, legendary ex-Arsenal player and manager, before winding up at Leeds and Spurs after being caught with his hands in the Highbury transfer till. Now a TV pundit, and apparently still yearns to return to management at the age of 62. Some people demand he should be our manager, presumably after they've been inhaling gas.

Graeme Souness - Erm, I think I'll stop here.

Curbs out!


The boy from 15 years ago is packing and going away.

Sorry, Blackburn, we overshadowed a workman-like win for you. But Sparky's only been around for a couple of years. Some of us have spent their entire adult lives with Alan Curbishley as manager of Charlton. In my case, it's just under half my entire life. And all of my adult life.

With apologies to Steve Gritt along the way, this brings to an end of continuity which has lasted since November 1982, when Lennie Lawrence took over, five months after spiv Mark Hulyer took over and ended the Gliksteins' reign in front of the club. Lawrence left in 1991, Curbs took over, we've had two managers in 23 years. I don't remember any manager before Lennie. (I wonder what he makes of today's events?)

We don't have a spiv in charge of the club any more - a High Court date did for that - but it's not likely we'll benefit from that kind of continutity in the future.

Curbs' decision speaks a massive amount for a man who genuinely looked embarrassed at the reception he recieved. Applause rang around The Valley during injury time - card-happy ref Rob Styles seemed to knock it off early in response.

I had a lump in my throat at the end of the game. No matter how much Curbs has done for us, in this modern era I don't think we'll ever really appreciate it properly.

The symbolism of him being in charge of his 729th game next week at Old Trafford can't be ignored - Jimmy Seed was in charge for 730 games. We never recovered after Seed left, under tight-fisted management who were happy to let the club decay.

The challenge for Richard Murray is to make sure the tricksy child which is Charlton prospers in the future. And he'll need all our support in as we look forward to life without Alan Curbishley.

But for now, let's toast Curbs, a man whose achievements have lifted all of our lives - without him, where would you be today?

(In the meantime, after the item about Curbs on Sky Sports News, Jose Mourinho "revealed" he'd thought about leaving Chelsea twice this season. Which demonstrates why the Portugese show-off isn't worth the steam off Alan Curbishley's piss, eh?)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

It was The Sun wot lost it

"There are 20 reporters outside my house now. If that is part of another culture, it is not part of my culture.

"I don't want this situation involving England because in two days during which I was not coach, I never agreed to anything, my life was invaded. My privacy was totally under siege."
(more)

And with what looked like a care in the community patient in a Union Jack hat outside the FA's Soho Square HQ, corpulent Daily Mail reporter Steve Curry - how many liquid lunches do you have to get for a fat face like his? - wobbled into a Sky Sports News studio to blubber on about how a foreigner wasn't really up for the job.

While on the south coast, forthright modern thinker Harry Redknapp - whose recent managerial record is an example for us all to remember - wondered why Alan Curbishley, Sam Allardyce or Steve MacClaren couldn't do the job, after all, Scolari had only won a World Cup, hadn't he?

If you didn't know this morning, you know now: England gets the manager it deserves.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Small club in Europe...

Bloody hell. Well done to Middlesbrough on getting to the Uefa Cup final in stunning fashion. What a week for English football it's been - first Arsenal in the Champions League final, now Boro in the Uefa Cup.

And the smoggies' success, together with that of West Ham in getting to the FA Cup final - and hence into Europe - shows us just what we should be capable of. Sure, both clubs haven't been shy in splashing the cash, but Boro were as dead as we were 20 years ago and aren't from the country's most promising town, and everyone wrote the Hammers off last summer. Mid-table needn't mean mediocre.

In the meantime, I'm struggling to build up excitement for our final game of the season against Blackburn, set for the bloody stupid game-killing Prem Armchair Mug Plus time of 5.15. (And it'll get worse...) The club's offer of free ice cream might just tempt me out of my house... hold on, what are you saying it's only for kids? And there's some bloody awful pop-opera crap on beforehand? (Who the hell books the entertainment at The Valley?) And Kevin Lisbie's been recalled from Derby and might play as well? Nope, I think I'll just lock myself in a darkened room instead.

In other news, Sven's been doing his best to jinx Luke Young, who may well put in an appearance at the Trafford GlazerDrome on Sunday week, a day before the provisional England squad is announced.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bugger Bolton

No, I couldn't really give a toss about our loss at the Reebok on Saturday. From the little I saw, we played like fannies, and Thomas Myhre had such a mare I'll be a little surprised if he keeps his place in goal at home to Blackburn.

From what I can gather, it was the same old, same old - too lightweight, too much relying on getting the ball up to Darren Bent. Well, blimey, that's a shock to hear. In fact, I wasn't surprised at all to hear we'd lost 4-1. Who really expected anything else? An already-lightweight team weakened by injury was always due a spanking.

West Ham's semi-final win against Middlesbrough does - rightly or wrongly - show our season up in a harsh light. Where Boro had all the luck against us at the Riverside, they had none of it at Villa Park as the Hammers nicked a fine win. West Ham get into Europe, we get into a coma for the end of the season. Great.

Still, only two games to go - but I really wish this season was over now. Who's up for some cricket?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

And now, the end is near...

The end of the season can't come soon enough. We know so much already, but there's still three bloody games to limp through yet. I imagine we'll take a taxi-load of fans to Bolton on Saturday, barring a brain-storm and an offer of a lift I shan't be at the Reebok.

We know we can't go down, and we know we can't qualify for Europe through the league without a miracle. We know our defence is more or less knackered, what with Luke Young's injury, Jonathan Spector's injury, Hermann Hreidarsson's ban and Talal El Karkouri's loan to Qatar. What's that last game of the season I was just mulling over a trip to? Ah, only Manchester United. Oops. Stay fit, Sorondo!

Elsewhere, we know we'll be playing Reading and Sheffield United next season, and we know Millwall have been relegated and Dave Tuttle can run off and join the circus. But it's not all good news - Palarse are in the play-offs.

The only big unknown is over who'll be our manager next season. Which is a bit unusual. All speculation over the England job aside, Curbs is still theoretically in with a shout at that. If that goes elsewhere, will be stick around next season? He has another year on his contract, but is he up for another season with us? Murmurings of a move to Newcastle would surely be off-beam, but how about one of the biggest challenges of all - dealing with Deadly Doug at Aston Villa?

I suppose this all depends on how he thinks this season has gone for him - surely with the playing staff he had in August, we should be doing better than we have done of late. But then we could still finish in the top ten, could still top 50 points. Not bad at all considering the rollercoaster season we've had. And there's a chance to do it all again next season. And do better.

With West Ham doing their best to unsettle Luke Young, and the usual doom-mongers deciding Darren Bent's going to leave us in the summer, and with the personality clashes we've had this season - cry-baby Murphy, moaning Deano - would a new manager soothe troubled waters and help attract new talent? Or do we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Decisions, decisions. And I'm a bit on the fence here. So I'll throw this open - firstly, if you were Curbs, would you stay or go? And what do you think he should do?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Charlton 2-1 Portsmouth

Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Guardian, The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Independent.

What a difference a little Bent makes. Setting up Bryan Hughes' equaliser, and then scoring his own just a few minutes later. Shame we played like idiots for the preceding 75 minutes - I'd already written this one off as a win for Pompey, and questioned my wisdom in staying at The Valley during half-time. But for at least ten minutes we played like world-beaters, and sent 'Arry's dubious boys back down to the south coast.

As the end of the season moves squarely into view, Osei Sankofa played well as he replaced a stretchered-off Jonathan Spector, while Marcus Bent hobbled off again. I still can't quite get over seeing Charlton win at home on a bright spring day, so I'll end it here with the thought that at least this gives us optimism for the end of the season. Hopefully there'll be a few more points in the bag to come...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fulham 2-1 Charlton

Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, fulhamfc.com, The Observer, The Guardian, The Independent, Independent on Sunday, The Times.

Roll up, roll up, it's the end-of-season slump, held over for a month to allow us to complete our Cup run. The agreeable surroundings of Craven Cottage (mixing with Fulham fans? Chaps selling bottles of beer out of backpacks?) felt like a soothing lotion to cure the pain of defeat at Middlesbrough, but it ended up feeling like a dab of tiger balm on the goolies.

It was a lively, end-to-end game, but Luis Boa Morte was too simply too fast for our defence, while their big lump (Pape Bouba Diop) was far more effective than our big lump (Marcus Bent). We simply shouldn't have opened up so obligingly for our first goal, while Boa Morte was left with enough space to drill a fine second goal past Thomas Myhre. Jason Euell got his first Charlton goal in 18 months, while in defence, Gonzalo Sorondo had another good game for us. But despite the efforts of Radostan Kishishev and Darren Ambrose, our midfield fell short - gaily floating the ball up to Darren Bent just isn't good enough.

Same old complaint as ever - we're just too lightweight. The way we're playing right now, Portsmouth might just find us easy pickings on Monday. Anyone want my ticket?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Flattened by the Viduka express

Back home, beaten, but not unbowed. No, bollocks, I'm absolutely gutted, and I can't hide it.

Just skipped through the TV coverage of our game at the Riverside - it's the first few minutes which are the most heartbreaking. Those chances - Benty, what were you doing? Bartlett, why? And what a bloody stupid opening goal to give away!

But perhaps it took the kick up the arse from Fabio Rochemback's goal to prompt us to score via Bryan Hughes seconds later. And so it went on. Again, the unbelievable roar from 5,200 Charlton fans made a huge difference. But in the end, it wasn't enough. George Boetang took charge of midfield, while the unlikely genius of Mark Viduka was just too much for us.

Because much as it pains me to admit it. We need a Viduka. We need a fat bastard who can still turn nimbly, yet flattening all in his path, and then shoot like a trained sniper. We need a dirty-so-and-so with a brain in his head. In fact, we need two or three of them. Just as we were this time last season, we're too lightweight, especially in midfield. We desperately missed Luke Young in defence. (Why didn't we play Sorondo?) And Shaun Bartlett seemed to settle back down to his usual non-form after the opening exchanges - putting too much pressure on Darren Bent, who buckled under some particularly close marking.

I don't buy the theory that we had no chance against that Boro line-up. But they were by far the stronger side. And they rode their luck, too - every 50/50 decision went for them, and they took their chances. When we blow ours in the first few minutes, what hope have we got?

But the truth is that we're lacking in strength and flair. Desperately so. And that defecit may well mean we have to wait another six years before we get a chance like the one we lost at the Riverside.

On the up side, it was an unforgettable atmosphere - who were the lads dressed as gladiators? - and the directors walking over to applaud the fans before the game was a fantastic gesture. It's a shame Alan Curbishley couldn't bring himself to break the habit of a lifetime and do the same after the game. But then, he has other things on his mind. Then again, so does Steve McClaren. And that didn't stop him.

Business as usual at Fulham on Saturday - but it'll be hard to convince anyone - us, our players, even our manager, that our season didn't end at about a quarter to ten last night. But we did ourselves proud last night - the body's weak and exhausted, but it's good to know there's still a heart beating loudly in there.

Match reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On the brink of history

In case you needed reminding, whatever happens tonight, it'll be seen as a turning point in our history.

Charlton have been forced to consider life without boss Alan Curbishley because he is one of the names in the frame for the England managerial post.

Curbishley has been with the Addicks for 15 years and chief executive Peter Varney is keen for him to stay.

But Varney told BBC London 94.9: "We have taken steps to make sure we know what direction we want to go in if Alan is the choice at the end of the day."
(more)

Shock, horror, it's a similar story at Boro too. Hopefully tonight will be the night we can build some foundations for the future, whoever our boss is. And with more transfer crap starting to bubble up, a bit of confidence and swagger wouldn't go amiss. Bullying little old Charlton into selling players? Shove it up your arse.

Me, I'll be doing my best to look incognito at King's Cross station, before drinking the finest wines on my train north - well, I did pay for my ticket after all. Let's hope we outplay, outthink, and outsing the smoggies tonight. We aren't going 250 miles up north for nothing, you know. COME ON YOU ADDICKS!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Oh, for the love of Hod...

There's few things I hate more than transfer window speculation, a way of building simple people's hopes up only for them to be cruelly dashed. And if Curbs goes this summer, hinted at by a few papers today and something I've suspected might happen for a while, it's going to be twenty times worse.

So, as a kind of "just in case" exercise to get you ready, let me tell you today's News of The World confidently declared Charlton have lined-up Glenn Hoddle to be our next manager. Apparently our board are fans of the way he plays. Of course, the God-bothering weirdo is on the brink of the sack at Wolves for not lifting the Midlands mediocrities out of the Championship speedily enough.

Almost certainly bollocks, but if you hear the strains of Kenny G come from a car around SE7 in the near future, be very afraid...

Charlton 0-0 Everton

Yawn. Not a classic. And not really a game where we learned a lot we didn't already know. But with Little Bent wrapped in cotton wool, Chris Powell snoozing gently in an armchair somewhere and a few other tweaks made with Wednesday on our mind, what did today's defence v defence match reinforce in our minds?

- We're buggered without Darren Bent. Big Bent is a big old lump and is useful in that respect, but he's not the fastest of movers. Jay Bothroyd brings some enthusiasm, but is a bit of a pushover.

- Jonathon Spector's not bad at all at right back, is he? And Gonzalo Sorondo had a good game too. Even if I do associate his name with an inferior club from South Norwood. And isn't Chris Perry's little renaissance fine to watch?

- Kish played his arse off and his distribution was fantastic. Hope he can still stay fresh for Wednesday.

- Whatever happened against Everton didn't really matter. Wednesday really matters.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Get in there Boro!


Eyes on a bigger prize, lads?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Trust in us?

Readers with long memories may remember the debate which kicked-off in June when I made a few observations about the proposed Charlton Athletic Independent Supporters Trust.

Well, with apologies for the astonishingly short notice of this, but its first meeting is planned for the Rose of Denmark, Charlton, this Thursday at 7.30pm. It's only been promoted on its own e-mail list, which is a worrying sign - if it's going to claim to represent Charlton fans, perhaps Charlton fans should have been told?

Still, it's early days, and you may wish to pay the meeting a visit to ensure CAIST stays on the right track and doesn't become a talking shop for a small group of people. A representative of Supporters Direct will also be there.

I just hope CAIST's organisers realise that, as a supporters' trust, they need to be as open and accountable to fans as possible, or the whole concept falls apart, on both a moral and practical basis.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough have coughed up an extra 400 tickets for the Cup replay - and that's our lot, after we sold out our initial allocation this morning. It's an odd time for the Smoggies - if they can pull off a small miracle against Basel on Thursday, their fans will have their eyes on bigger things. If not, they'll be up for it as much as we are.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Operation Carshare

No transport to the Riverside? Or want to share the strain of getting to the north east and back? Sign up with the newly set-up CAFC Car Share and see what you can arrange. A cracking idea, and one which should live on beyond the Boro game.

For those looking to go independently by train, there are limited numbers of £25 single fares available on GNER from King's Cross, changing at Darlington. You'd have to find somewhere to stay the night, mind. Other singles cost £33, while the full-rate saver return is £88, two pounds cheaper than the most inexpensive first class fare.

One hour, 45 minutes and...


...finally got the Boro tickets. I've not had a more fortunately-timed day off for quite a while. And to think I was thinking this morning I could just nip down to the shops, buy a pint and a paper, nip round to the ticket office, and do the whole job in half an hour. Whoops.

Still, job done, and with the free train tickets snapped up by 1pm, it's a good thing I got my non-free train well in advance after all. For anyone thinking of heading down now, you're still looking at an hour's queueing time - good luck.

UPDATE: 3,755 tickets sold by 6pm on Monday - we're on track to filling our 5,000 allocation. Plus extra coach stops at Canary Wharf and London Bridge - and to think about a week ago I was having conversations wondering whether we'd top the 1,000 mark. Amazing stuff.

West Ham 0-0 Charlton

A fair point and a lively game over the water, although as I watch Sky Sports News now, I know that whatever we did will always be overshadowed by it being Teddy Sheringham's 40th birthday. There won't be many men who'll get to play a game of Premiership football to start their fifth decade, although the lads in front of me who sang "My grandma fancies you..." did their best to burst his balloon.

Back in the real world, there wasn't too much separating two even teams. I thought Charlton edged the first half, the Hammers the second half, others have agreed and disagreed since the game finished. Darren Bent was marked out of the game, Marcus was big enough to cause trouble but not skilful enough to make much of it. Bryan Hughes had one of those surprisingly determined games he occasionally has, while Kish worked his arse off yet again and our defence as a whole did a sterling job. Especially Luke Young, who felt the brunt of Paul Konchesky's frustrations at being booed by Charlton fans (if you get clapped by fans of your former club, acknowledge it, or you'll spend the game having the piss ripped out of you) and hobbled off with an injury which may put him at risk for Boro.

Dennis Rommedahl was a threat in the first half, but in the second half West Ham plugged the gaps - Sheringham's birthday introduction at half-time seemed an indulgence, mind - and the game petered out a little. But Mryhe's skills between the sticks kept us in it, and it wound up as a useful point. Shame West Ham's fans were so quiet on an afternoon of much banter and almost no aggro, but they've got a semi on their mind. Hopefully we'll see them again...

Despite the friendly atmosphere, it didn't stop the Met clearly giving the game a high priority - overtime heaven for Newham police. And West Ham's stewards are bunch of officious arseholes - physically blocking access to the bar at half-time because it may have created a crush at the bar (yeah, right.)

Most miserable of all, two stewards stopped a Swedish visitor with a camera at the turnstile and lectured him like a child about not taking photos while the game was in progress, or they'd take his camera away. Nice to see a club boasting it's in a London 2012 host borough so assidiously enforcing the FA Premier League Ltd's intellectual rights above being polite to its vistors from overseas. Tossers.

Damn, must have taken the picture above by accident, then.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Simon Jordan's wit and wisdom (again)

You know what? I'm starting to develop a sneaking liking for Simon Jordan. Which club does the Palarse chairman hate almost as much as us? Yup, it's Birmingham...

If I see another David Gold interview on the poor East End Jewish boy done good I'll impale myself on one of his dildos. These guys are desperately pleased with themselves, they're in it for the profile and they don't do criticism. (more)

It's wonderful stuff, and is actually entirely correct as well. The further we get away from Palace, the angrier Jordan gets, so hopefully this'll spur us on to greater success.

Now, I've got to be at Upton Park in two hours, haven't I? Before that, though, just time to read this interview with Thomas Myhre in the Independent on Sunday.