Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Sunday People.
So, it's 1am, I've been back in south-east London for three hours, and I still can't make sense of what happened today. There's got to be a deeper reason, something more compelling than "we're shite, we can't cut it, and we deserve to go down", hasn't there?
Actually, there isn't. The team isn't worthy of the 5,800 Charlton fans who travelled to deepest Lancashire today. It feels disloyal to say it when there's still the faintest glimmer of hope (Fulham play Arsenal on Sunday) but it's the truth.
It was a good-spirited day, mind, starting with the slightly odd sight of a large contingent of Charlton fans at London Bridge station at 7.20am, waiting for the train to Gatwick. And a man with a gorilla's head, ready to wear at Ewood. Several hours later, outside the away fans' pub, The Fernhurst, it dawned on me that this was starting to have the feel of a relegation party, then cursed myself for thinking this way.
But I was more or less right. We struggled in a so-so first half, but gained in confidence and ended it on top. But we knew West Ham were beating Wigan down the road - it was always going to be an uphill task.
And then there was the second half - a catalogue of goalkeeping errors from Scott Carson, magnificent all season until today, and the same lousy defending that landed us in this mess in the first place.
Darren Bent's lucky equaliser roused the spirits, despite Ben Thatcher's avoidable sending-off, but HH's farcical own goal seemed to kill off all hope in the Charlton camp as an average Blackburn side romped home.
Whatever the achievements of Alan Pardew this season, our form over recent weeks is a reminder that our problems began long before he - or even Iain Dowie - set foot into our club.
At the end, a lone figure in red applauded the Charlton fans, looking crushed. No other Charlton player followed Matt Holland's lead, beyond the odd token gesture.
Actually, that probably tells you all you need to know, doesn't it?
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Sunday People.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:51 am
Friday, April 27, 2007
Readers, can you spot the contradiction between these two statements about Carlos Tevez?
Premier League Independent Commission report, 27/4/07: "The economic rights of Tevez are owned exclusively and absolutely by MSI and Just Sports Inc ... the companies had the sole, exclusive and unilateral right, upon serving written notice to the club during the January transfer window, to terminate his contract with West Ham upon payment to the club of £2 million ... the companies have the unilateral option to exercise that right of termination during any subsequent UK transfer window for the sum of £100,000 payable to the club.
We order the registration of Carlos Tevez can be terminated by the FAPL.
West Ham United press statement, 27/4/07: "Following discussions with the FA Premier League, West Ham United can confirm that Carlos Tevez is available for selection for the rest of the season, including tomorrow's game against Wigan Athletic.
The actual registration of Carlos Tevez has not been called into question and he remains a West Ham United player approved by the Premier League."
So West Ham have been found guilty of cheating. There's no two ways about it. And while that idiot Terence Brown has long since vacated the Boleyn, that team is still playing with a player who should not be there. That team has also gained points due to the efforts of a player who should not be there. And it may stay in the Premier League at another side's expense, thanks to a player who should not be there.
The two most recent cases of ineligble players were outside the league and involved errors in international clearance - Altrincham getting a whopping 18-point deduction a year ago, AFC Wimbledon having a similar punishment reduced to a 3-point deduction thanks to fan and media pressure. But they were errors. This was simple cheating.
Despite the hefty fine imposed on West Ham, Carlos Tevez's continued presence at West Ham could be the best £5.5m the Irons have ever spent.
And if Tevez's registration has not been called into question, why did the commission say the Premier League could cancel it? And why have West Ham been able to resolve this issue outside the transfer window, 19 hours before a vital match?
This stinks. If Wigan or Fulham fail to stay up, and West Ham survive, I hope Messrs Whelan or al-Fayed consider suing.
As for us... I'll deal with that on my return from Blackburn. See you up in the sky.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:11 pm
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Going by plane on Saturday? Keep those boarding passes - you should be able to get a free first class Virgin Trains ticket out of them...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 6:57 pm
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
After the doom and gloom of the weekend, a brighter mood. And, on my doormat tonight, my ticket for Operation Carbon. How early's that blinkin' flight?!?! There'll be time to see the sights up there. Still, better than several hours of enduring people's farts on a coach, and I might not only make last orders back in sunny Greenwich, but be comfortably sloshed by the bell. It is these things that matter, you know.
Of course, I've been keeping my counsel until then. Trying to avoid yet another conversation about it. Keeping off messageboards. Thinking positive thoughts. Definitely not listening to any downloadable radio shows. And not playing with relegation calculators that I haven't nicked from Frankie Valley.
And of course, what is there to lose? We could win. We could be on the brink of something good here. I bet Marcus Bent won't be around next season. That'll be good, won't it?
Now, where's that tourism guide to Blackburn...?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 8:16 pm
Monday, April 23, 2007
A word from the Charlton Life board about the Blackburn match...
As some people on here may have seen I have lived here in Brisbane, Australia for the last 10 years and have only seen my beloved Addicks play three times in the flesh since I came out here.
Well, desperate times call for desperate measures and having despaired at the Blades result at 1.45am here on Sunday morning I have made a decision: I am coming to the Blackburn game at Ewood Park.
I am self-employed and have a very understanding wife so there are no problems there, so my plane ticket is now booked and instructions issued to my cousin to get us some tickets and put some petrol in the car because we are heading north.
A big decision, yes, but the right one without a doubt because I came back for the Play Off final in 1998 and I really feel this game is as big as that one was and if I can make just 0.00001% difference by being there then I will do it. (more)
Posted by Inspector Sands at 7:29 pm
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, The Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday.
Destiny? Sod that. The sun may have shone over The Valley for our final 3pm kick-off of the season, but Charlton's Premiership future is on increasingly thin ice after sloppy defending saw us surrender a lead over the Blades. A point is disappointing for both sides, but leaves Sheffield United in a better position and us in the bottom three, with West Ham breathing down our necks after their victory over Everton.
In hindsight, it may have been a mistake to include four pacy-but-lightweight midfielders in the team - Dennis Rommedahl, Darren Ambrose, Jerome Thomas and Zheng Zhi. Perhaps Matt Holland's experience would have stopped the midfield going AWOL at vital moments.
Indeed, Ambrose's first-half header should have sealed it for us, instead of going wide. But once again, team failings overshadowed individual weaknesses - despite dominating most of the game, some dreadful passing, and a general failure to anticipate What Should Happen Next was unforgiveable. It's been the story of the season, and it got another airing today.
As if to prove the point, Talal El Karkouri's deflected goal from 40 yards seemed a snatch of outrageous luck, seeming to crawl over the line as fat Paddy Kenny belatedly woke up to what was coming.
But what happened next was very Curbishley. As our former master lorded it over Everton over the water, we suddenly started to defend suicidally deep. When the previously useless Jon Stead - the poor man's Peter Crouch - fired home from 18 yards, it was exactly what we deserved. And we never recovered, and the atmosphere around The Valley at the end of the match said it all.
Of course, Alan Wiley's woeful refereeing didn't help - Charlton fouls seemed to count for more than United's, while Neil Warnock's side dived, pushed and fouled with few sanctions.
Of course, speaking to Sky after the match, Colin Wanker was praising Wiley's performance with that smirk on his face. Few tears will be shed for his side if they succumb to the drop, but anyone with a fondness for Charlton had better keep a tissue close to hand.
In the pub afterwards, Derek Hales was feted by fans, and the pain was numbed. An old boy, asked if we were doomed, replied, "keep on punching, lads". There might be some surprises ahead yet.
And walking back, as the sun set over The Valley and kids played in the street, I took in the north stand for the umpteenth time, and reflected on how far we'd come in six years. Whatever happens in the next four weeks, let's not forget that.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:34 pm
Luke Young in the Guardian: "We've done a few things, go-karting, paint-balling and the latest one was clay-pigeon shooting - half of us dressed up in the shooting gear. Matty Holland looked fantastic, he had everything you could want. I think that's helped get everyone together. If you spend more time with someone, it's good for team morale."
Ben Thatcher in the Mirror: "We went clay-pigeon shooting on Tuesday, which was a great team bonding exercise. All the lads got dressed up and it was great banter. Everyone enjoyed it and the spirit is tremendous now. We had the full Monty when it came to the kit: the plus-fours, the shooting gear, everything. Little things like that really help the spirit. The manager got involved as well - he led the way, getting out of the car all dressed up.
"It makes the players feel very close to him and we all want to break our balls for him."
Scott Carson in The Times: "The gaffer was just saying today that he doesn't want people to be afraid because he thinks that we've stopped doing the things that got us results before. He thinks we've been a bit too conservative instead of going full out for the win. He wants us to go out and play like we did against West Ham - with no fear."
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:11 pm
Friday, April 20, 2007
The clock ticks to 3pm on Saturday. There are voices in my head...
"See, you write this blog, and it's the biggest game EVER on Saturday. What are you going to say?"
"But this could shape everything! EVERYTHING hangs on Saturday!"
Yeah, I know. But...
"So you've got to have something sensible to say, haven't you?"
Erm... what? Like Saturday's match could be the most important we've had since the play-off final, Neil Warnock's a bit of a tosser and Darren Bent needs some decent service if he's going to come up with the goods for us?
"Is that all? No searing tactical analysis? No heartfelt explorations of your feelings ahead of the match? No jokes about West Ham?"
But since when did I analyse tactics? And I don't feel anything. I can't get worried. I can't get excited. Whatever will be, will be. And why should I be worried about other clubs?
"And the league table? And whether we can catch Wigan or Fulham..."
STOP IT! I'll deal with my feelings at five o'clock on Saturday. I don't know how I feel at the moment. I'm not going to waste my life wondering about things that might never happen.
"But you are going to Blackburn for Operation Carbon, aren't you?"
Yes, I have my plane ticket, thank you.
"Still, I've got some good news for you?"
"There's an Abba tribute band playing before Saturday's match..."
"And don't look at the official site's series of Abba puns. It might send you over the edge."
Ah, cheers. See you on Saturday, then.
"See you then. COME ON YOU ADDICKS!"
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:25 am
Monday, April 16, 2007
Well, like I said, I didn't expect much from our trip to Everton. From what I saw on exotic foreign TV in a pub in deepest suburbia, it was a cruel defeat, but we were punished for slack defending. We blew loads of chances to score, so despite Everton blowing plenty too (especially in the first half), we can't really complain. Same old problem, really - too little confidence in front of goal. Hey-ho.
So, third from bottom, two points behind Sheffield United. Who we play on Saturday.
Bring 'em on.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:05 am
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Dunno about you, but I'm expecting nothing at all from this afternoon's match at Everton. It's not that we're crap - although our nerves in front of goal aren't helping. No, it's just that Everton are, frankly, a bloody good team at the moment. I'd taken them for granted until I saw the end of their match against Arsenal this month, Andy Johnson firing home a winner as hail tipped down at Goodison Park (I watched that in Valencia, where it was sunny and warm. Ha!)
Forget the Palarse stuff, Johnson's done well for himself up there. Mikel Arteta is also a threat, while on the upside we won't have to face Tim Cahill, out with a broken foot. European football's a real possibility for the Toffees, so they've everything to play for.
Mind you, history's on our side, of course - we've nicked a couple of wins up there in recent years, and the fact that I turned down a lift up there earlier this week probably means we'll score six.
The Grand National-forced move to Sunday also sees the match played on a poignant day on Merseyside - the 18th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. I doubt adopted Charlton "fan" Kelvin Mackenzie will be showing his face up there today.
West Ham's fannying around at Bramall Lane yesterday means Sheffield United have nudged us back into the bottom three, our two rivals are also in action this week (playing Chelsea and Manchester United, mind) so we won't get a true picture of the bottom of the table until the middle of the week. Fulham's defeat at Reading mean they're still teetering on the edge... one thing you can say about a relegation battle is that it isn't boring.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:30 am
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Chris Coleman's sacking by Fulham isn't the surprise that it seemed - reading between the lines over the past few months, he clearly hasn't seen eye-to-eye with the Cottagers' bosses for some time. Stepping in behind caretaker boss Lawrie Sanchez, according to The Times... is our old pal Uncle Les Reed, who has successfully worked alongside Sanchez at Northern Ireland.
I imagine Sanchez will relegate Les to ProZone duties, but... but... wouldn't it be lovely if he could relegate them from the inside, eh?
It's a shame, actually, because I was hoping to wish Les all the best in his next job, but instead he's at a club which is only above League One because of the massive and unsustainable investment of Mohammed al-Fayed. Fulham were the spoilt child of SW6 long before Roman Abramovich arrived on the scene. Even if we fail this season, I'd still love to see them go down. Perhaps they might become a proper club and a proper business again.
Hopefully it's too late for Fulham to bounce back. But again, this is a distraction - only we can control our own destiny. If Fulham fall, it's just a bonus.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:57 pm
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
70 coaches? Blimey. Nine planes?! Feel the planet warm as Charlton launch Operation Carbon, a grand plan to shift as many Addick arses as possible to Blackburn at the end of the month.
Train travel to Lancashire's impractical because of engineering works (again), so we're forced up into the skies and on the road for yet another vital match, at a club which is struggling to get its own bums on seats (and is only charging £15 for tickets as well).
It's another fabulous gesture from the club - I just hope it's all worth it. Incidentally, you won't find it referred to as Op*r*t**n Ew**d here, memories of the trip to Middlesbrough this time last year are a little too vivid for my liking.
It's a real shame that our final three away fixtures seem to have been timed to deter any kind of Charlton support. The Everton match was moved to a Sunday to allow for the Grand National (can't that just be factored into the fixture computer?) - that's the Sunday when trains to Liverpool crawl north and cost twice as much. It's a boon for landlords with iffy TV feeds.
And the same goes for the end-of-season finale at Liverpool - I hate to think what the ticketing arrangements will be for that. I imagine Sky will lap that up if we're still in peril. Remember, you're just an extra in the big Premiership TV show. So thank heavens for our board, who are just a touch better than that.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:50 pm
Oh, look! It's Marcus Bent and a little slapper!
Dumped WAG Danielle Lloyd has spoken for the first time of how she has put ex-boyfriend Teddy Sheringham out of her mind - and labelled him a "p***".
The 23-year-old model proved she's well and truly done with the West Ham striker by snogging fellow footballer Marcus Bent in London club Pangaea last night.
It's the second time in two weeks the pair have been caught in a passionate clinch.
They were seen canoodling in the capital's Funky Buddha nightclub recently. (more)
Aren't we meant to be injured, Marcus?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:40 pm
As you probably know by now, it turns out Graham Poll did us a favour last night - despite his usual inconsistent nonsense, he was asked by Pards to signal if Alexandre Song was on his way to a red card. And he did, which is why he was taken off for Kevin Lisbie. A good thing? The Premier League thinks so. I think so, too. And I'd like to think I'd be saying the same if it was Ki-Hyeon Seol likely to sent off as well. Although I can't really be so sure... Maybe this happens more often than we know about. Maybe it's Pardew playing mind games.
But whatever, it's nice to be saying something positive about a ref. Even if it is Poll.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 9:19 pm
Monday, April 09, 2007
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, The Guardian, The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Independent.
It's a good thing I like animals, because the cats lurking around SE7 tonight would have got a right kicking on my way home if I didn't. A frustrating night saw us crack under pressure and blow the chance to instil fear in Fulham and Wigan.
Where to start? Two early substitutions through injury (Marcus Bent and HH off for Matt Holland and Ben Thatcher) didn't help the team's composure in the first half, while the antics of Graham Poll, given special leave from his holiday job at Zippo's Circus on Blackheath also put the willies up us, possibly leading to Alexandre Song's replacement with Kevin Lisbie in the second half.
Much of the grumbles could also apply to the Manchester City game - the shape seems all wrong, Jerome Thomas isn't the player he thinks he is, and we're expecting too much of Darren Bent. But most of all, there was a reluctance to create, and instead we held back, waiting for golden chances instead of making them ourselves.
And the chances that did come - such as Talal El Karkouri's early shot against the bar, and Zheng Zhi's late header, might never come as good again this season.
Indeed, hope seemed to fade when Lisbie jogged on, because he's so clearly nowhere near Premiership standard, and seemed to expect everything to fall for him. I wouldn't be surprised if he fails to get a berth at even a Championship club next season.
Reading were the same well-drilled side that hammered us in the Berkshire clone town last November, despite the lack of height in some of their players and Leroy Lita's ludicrous yellow boots. They'll be cursing not killing us off at the end of the game when the fear really did set in, but they lack quality up front.
On the positive side, the point could be useful, and we've not conceded a goal for a long while. But two points from our Easter will give more comfort to our friends at Upton Park, Bramall Lane, the JJB and Craven Cottage. The drama continues.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:56 pm
So this is where the pressure mounts. With West Ham not travelling to Sheffield United until next Saturday - both team's end-of-season schedule hit by the FA Cup semis - we've got the chance to really make a difference. Wigan's draw with Aston Villa means we can't overhaul the Latics, but we are within spitting distance of turning the screw on both them and Fulham.
I can't begin to emphasise how important a win for us against Reading in a couple of hours would be. We can do it, but we can't show the nerves and hesitancy that we did in attack at Manchester City - although the defensive steel would be good.
Our trip to Reading in November was one of the low points of the season, and the start of Les Reed's dismal tenure. Now this has to be the start of our adventures in the safety zone. Fingers crossed.
Of course, this means the pressure is now all on us - our fate is in our own hands. We need a result so Saturday's match at Bramall Lane won't affect us, as well. Annoyingly, the fixtures are now dotted around the calendar thanks to the Cup postponements and our trip to Everton being shifted to Sunday for the Grand National. And let's not hear any old crap about a possible West Ham points deduction - it's an irrelevance. What we do is all that matters. And let's back them all the way, whatever happens tonight. COME ON YOU ADDICKS!
Posted by Inspector Sands at 5:49 pm
Saturday, April 07, 2007
It wasn't even champagne football on show at the City of Manchester Stadium yesterday - hell, it wasn't even a Boddington's kickabout. But the point we gained under blue skies in Eastlands was the sweetest of the season, the one which lifted us out of the relegation zone for the first time since September. It was a fair result, and while the game wasn't much cop, watching Stuart Pearce leap around the touchline was worth the price of admission alone. I found myself musing on how his team would be unable to score in a brothel, but was reminded this morning that we wouldn't even get inside the establishment - we didn't have a shot on target.
That said, from the point in the second half when the penny dropped, and we decided to stop relying on Jerome Thomas to do all the bloody work, we did look like a threat. But it was a defenders' game, and we didn't have the guile to get past City's. Marcus Bent was getting a bit of stick from those around me, which I thought a tad unfair - some of the service up to him was a bit ropey, and he's not going to go into worthless challenges for the sake of it.
Funny old crowd too - too many flasks to create a real atmosphere, and lots of frustrated youths because of it. But everyone left smiling - and the music played at the end of the game, Oasis' Little By Little, was apt.
I took the late kick-off as an opportunity for a night out in Manchester, seeing Amusement Parks on Fire at the Roadhouse venue, where I got chatting with a Wigan fan. ("That wasn't a fookin' penalty!") We also chatted about their derby against Bolton - and, of course, the Latics ended up getting an Amir Khan-style pasting from the Trotters.
That, Newcastle pulling their bloody finger out and beating Sheffield United, and West Ham's win at Arsenal means the relegation battle's shaping up to be a very tasty one indeed.
Our heads are above water now - it's in our hands to stay up, although West Ham's match with Sheffield United now becomes a tricky one, since we could do with a low-scoring draw from that. It's all getting a bit close to call, but we're in an ideal place to put all this behind us - and it's because of dogged performances like yesterday's draw. Things are still looking up. Although I wish West Ham would stop bloody winning...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 9:53 pm
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Well - the news that Phil Parkinson was due to become Huddersfield's new manager came out of nowhere, didn't it? Parkinson's praises haven't really been sung since he joined Alan Pardew in January, and his status was a bit up in the air anyway. So it was understandable that when Huddersfield came knocking, his head was turned.
According to the Terriers, there were a couple of interviews, a couple of agreements, and then suddenly we made Parkinson an offer he couldn't refuse, he started to waver, and then this morning Huddersfield's chairman Ken Davy held a press conference next to an empty chair, having taken Parky's call an hour previously.
At least on the record, Huddersfield are taking the sudden rejection with a brave face, with both Davy and his vice-chairman Andrew Watson calling it "frustrating". I bet it was.
Their fans, mind, wasted no time in spitting cyber-dummies out of online prams - check out this from "Geoff" at the Terriers' Rivals site Down At The Mac:
"The whole incident just leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. It sums up the attitude of the Premier League and the general lack of decent morality that is prevalent in the so-called higher levels of football today." (more)
Of course, if he pulled his head out of his arse, he'd realise we're fighting to survive just like they are as well. Funny to think it's nearly eight years since we were battling Huddersfield to get into the "greedy league". That was before they grew such a victim complex... bitter isn't the word.
But our their loss is our gain - we've now properly secured the services of Alan Pardew's preferred right-hand man. There's a bit of stability in place for next season. And while Parkinson seems to have overreached himself at Hull, at least we can peer into a possible post-Pardew future as well, although hopefully that'll be a long way down the line.
Some 300 tickets left for Citeh on Friday - and I hope Ben Thatcher will be making the trip too...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 9:39 pm