Tuesday, August 31, 2004

No transfers

Charlton plc chairman Richard Murray said: "Over the past few weeks and months, we have made every effort to sign a number of players we felt would improve the first-team squad, but they are either unavailable or are overpriced.

"So, we will review matters again in January when the transfer window re-opens."

Oh, bugger.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Pass this around

The Guardian on Man City

Excellent bit of analysis from The Guardian's Rob Smyth on our walloping at Manchester City.

Charlton have opened their doors this summer to a number of high-profile signings, a policy that is anathema to that on which their recent success has been built. The golden goose is not dead yet, but they did look horribly disjointed. They need to get nasty.

Dennis Rommedahl may gobble up the ground like Pacman, but at the moment the pace of the Premiership is swallowing him up. Francis Jeffers was isolated and, though Danny Murphy probed intelligently, he was guilty of missing an absolute sitter, wafting lazily over the bar from six yards at 1-0.

By the end, Charlton were putting up as much resistance as a drunk fresher.

Robson out

Newcastle have sacked Sir Bobby Robson - maybe sleazy old Freddy Shepherd might just be honest and run the team himself now. If they don't plump for Alan Shearer straight away, expect another week of irritating speculation about Curbs...

(Unless, of course, you want to see him go...)

Sky Sports News is talking about a Gerard Houllier-Alan Shearer partnership. How to make a self-made crisis worse... That's two managers out after two weeks. What a high calibre of chairmen we have running Premiership clubs.

Still, that'll also mean no manager is going to want to be advertising Barclays Bank next season.

In other news, Robert Earnshaw has signed for West Brom.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Missing out on Earnshaw?

So, get ready to cross off another of those long-rumoured transfer targets as Robert Earnshaw looks set to be going to West Brom. Or was it Everton?

Not that one of the worst football websites in existence, Tribal Football - created for people who scream "it must be true, it's on the internet!" - seems to have a clue.

Mind you, there are still a couple more days to go until the transfer window closes, so who knows what might happen? The trouble is, after yesterday's performance, we still seem weak in all departments - I've been spending the past few weeks banging on about how we need a striker, but yesterday our defence and midfield was too poor to get a ball up to the ones we had. Although we do have more options in these areas - for example, why has Chris Perry not had a start yet? After a week which has seen us linked with Andy Reid, Joey Barton (who played out of his skin and was cheered to the rafters at Eastlands) Javier Saviola and Darren Bent, to greater or lesser degrees, I'd be interested to hear who you think we should be after.

One thing which may happen if our results don't improve is more scrutiny of our performances - now we're not considered automatic relegation fodder, journalists may actually start to question what Curbishley is doing, something he's not used to.

Incidentally, if I hear another idiot call for the return of Scott Parker, I'm going to go absolutely postal - why anybody thinks we should reward his greed in demanding to leave our club with a return on loan from Roman's money boys is beyond me. A cut-price buy-back, maybe, but I can't see that happening, can you? We may miss his presence in midfield, but that was yesterday. And, of course, if we had someone like Barton in midfield, you'd forget Parker had ever existed.

We have to move on, and forget the money-grabbing little bastard that's rotting at Chelsea. He made his own bed, he's got to lie in it. In Bobby Davro's house, of course.

The same is happening at Everton, of course, where shag-a-granny addict Wayne Rooney slaps in a transfer request just a few days before the window closes. Did anyone suggest the words "tapped", "up", "Manchester" and "United"? Oh, of course not, this is the clean and honest world of football. And then Rooney goes and slags Everton off. Sound familiar? Crazy, and sad to see a proud side like Everton bullied by a thick teenager, a greedy agent and the ruthless "big clubs". Just the shining qualities embodied in the all-new, fair play anthem Premiership.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Manchester City 4-0 Charlton

Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Sunday People, Sunday Times, Wyn Grant, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Sun, Daily Mirror.

An absolute shambles of a game. Utter crap. The best thing about it I can report is that I managed to get home in three hours and twenty minutes.

Which was worse, this or Bolton? This was - because I think Bolton were a better team than City, who didn't look all that impressive, save for the efforts of Nicolas Anelka and Shaun Wright-Phillips. We, however, stank the stunning City of Manchester stadium out, giving the hosts probably their best win there since they moved in.

Who was to blame? A woeful defence, especially Fortune and Fish, needs taking out and sorting out. Fish was about as agile on the pitch as an oil tanker - and helpless as Anelka fired home City's first. Our midfield was all over the place. Kishishev - who showed so much improvement against Villa - was wretched. Our strikers - Lisbie and Jeffers - hardly had a sniff of the ball. And this was the same team as Wednesday night, too.

It's time to suggest the unspeakable. Have a long, hard think about dropping Dean Kiely for the next game, Curbs. He was useless today, and not much better at Bolton either. The woeful second goal, where his clearance cannoned in off the back of Trevor Sinclair's calf, just about summed his performance up. The results of those wayward free kicks are starting to mount up - and we have a brilliant young understudy in Stephan Andersen. It's time to seriously think about whether Deano is past his peak.

But generally, we're still too lightweight. And it showed today. We got away with it against Portsmouth through luck. We got away with it against Villa because the Brummie side were useless. Those neat little Euell tackles didn't work today. We show nice bits of skill, but get blown off the pitch at the slightest provocation. Keegan's side spotted that, and blew us apart. Others may not - it could be a very volatile season. Unfortunately, this defeat is going to hang over us for ages - there's 16 days until the Southampton game. I hope the crowd's jeers ring in the ears of everyone involved in this debacle every day until then.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm retiring to the pub to forget this ever happened, and to buy the gentleman who got me back to London so swiftly a drink.

Friday, August 27, 2004

And another one...

Another day, another new Charlton blog. Enter Addick Life, a kind of colour supplement to the indispensable Forever Charlton. Excellent stuff.

Ipswich don't want our Bent coppers

Sorry, couldn't resist the pun. Charlton have confirmed a £3m bid for Darren Bent - but Ipswich told us to stick it, in the nicest possible manner. You can't blame Ipswich, for whom Premiership football is becoming a distant memory, for wanting to hang on to one of their best players, although it'll be interesting to see if this prompts a "oh... another half a million?" or something like that. Mind you, since we got Holland and Herman on the cheap from them, they'll be unlikely to want us to get away with it again.

Which of course, is why Kevin Lisbie is hoping praying Franny Jeffers' excellent debut rubs off on him.

"I'm scoring goals in training and it's not a problem but I've got to do it in games. I've been out for eight months and am just getting the hang of things again. I need the ball to go off my knee or my shin, and then I'll be up and running again." (more)

After the 10-hour round trip by train to Bolton, I've sponged a lift for our trip to Manchester City - I can only hope my travelling companions don't blow the M6 Toll money on the "jazz mags" they keep going on about. I've always quite liked to read about Miles Davis and Chet Baker on a long car ride, myself.

A Reet good idea

coverStill catching up with things after being away - and blushing slightly at Forever Charlton's comments that the "humour and insight of the fanzine days is re-emerging" thanks to this and other sites. I think Charlton could be the most blogged club in the Premiership, and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. In fact, please welcome a new one - Darcy Sarto's Missing Page.

Which is very nice, especially when I've just fished out fanzine king-turned-gamekeeper Rick Everitt deciding to reply further to my coach-from-Ramsgate post to two men and a dog on the mailing list, with the comment "Good to see the blogger's on the ball again", rather than trying to engage in any kind of debate here. That's not to say he has to, but to make his points elsewhere to an audience he probably knows personally, and not to address them to the person who's questioning the club's policy, seems a bit odd to me. But what do I know?

The grandaddy of all football blogs is Arseblog - but even then, the Gunners only have one other site, East Lower, to the best of my knowledge. Although there's probably lots of Manchester United fans in Thailand or Woking knocking out reams about a ground they've never visited right now.

I've just been alerted to a very good West Ham site, though - Upton Lark. And a new Newcastle one - Black and White and Read All Over. Geddit?

All of which brings me to Reet Smoot - really getting into his stride after a few weeks, and guaranteed to be the only Charlton site with the lyrics to Up Town, Top Ranking by Althea & Donna at the foot of the page. It'd be nice to know these sites are being read inside the club - so how about hearing Althea & Donna as part of the pre-match tunes before the Southampton game? Come on Dave, you know you want to do it.

Let's all laugh at Southampton

Rupert Lowe, 27 July 2004:

"We are a bigger club than Charlton."

One month later, Lowe has already crapped himself and sacked his manager after just two games - a disgraceful way to behave. Big clubs aren't run by cowards, Rupert.

But, enter "Southampton FC" into Google, and you'll get this fantastic advert...

...ah, yes. If you've got some of that stuff, I'd feed it to the dog, if I were you.

So, having shown Paul Sturrock the door, new head coach Steve Wigley is now looking down the Lowe shotgun as he tries to get the Saints back into shape. Some people have a pop at the Charlton website, but to be honest, we're lucky. Have you seen some of the crap on the Southampton site?

A "veiled swipe"? Hang on, why would Southampton describe their own comments as a "veiled swipe"? Isn't that for someone else to interpret? Ah, it's that pygmy club patronising its fans again.

So, as for the hapless Steve Wigley, after seeing his side slip to defeat against Bolton, what can he say about this weekend's opponents, Chelsea?

Mmmmmm. Tomorrow, "Wigs" on why traffic lights have a large impact on the way motorists drive their cars on public roads.

In short - Southampton are a club in decline with a chairman who's shown why he's all mouth but no trousers. After this month, Rupe, who's the bigger club now?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Charlton 3-0 Aston Villa

Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, ITV Football, London Evening Sub-Standard, The Sun, Daily Mirror, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Birmingham Evening Mail, News Shopper (!), Wyn Grant.

Picture an alternative scenario before you get too smug. What if Shaun Bartlett wasn't injured, and we had Tweedledum and Tweedledee up front against a Carlton Cole clearly fired up by the crowd's booing? What do you think would have happened?

Of course, as we know, things were a little different. No Bartlett, on comes Franny Jeffers - two great goals later, he becomes the first Charlton player who's just signed a new contract to treat us to a brace for a bloody long time. It destroyed a team who looked like one of the Premiership's early pace-setters, reducing them to a quivering mess.

Not that it was down to Jeffers alone - Luke Young, Mark Fish and Radostin Kishishev were excellent at the back, and Young deserved his wildly-celebrated goal. Jason Euell's tackling was worth a garage full of Bentleys, Dennis Rommedahl's running demonstrated why the Dane shows so much promise, and Lisbie made a right nuisance of himself up front - but his failure to convert chances into goals shows why he continues to divide opinions around Floyd Road.

Carlton Cole's agent Jonathan Barnett should think on this - his client has become the gift to us which keeps on giving. Five goals last season, plus for tonight, a focus for The Valley crowd to get riled. Charlton fans only really get going when they've something to rail against - Cole's perceived disloyalty/laziness/whatever helped prompt some of the loudest booing heard at The Valley in years. Unlike Jloyd Samuel - Valley jeers usually prompt goals from him - Cole eventually let it get to him, and David O'Leary was surprisingly sluggish about replacing him for a wiser head in Juan Pablo Angel. But the roasting Cole received meant The Valley was a midweek furnace - which is just how I like it.

With Dean Kiely in fine shot-stopping form, not even Angel could save Villa, who arguably deserved a goal for the pressure they put us on for the last 20 minutes or so.

I shared a cab towards The Valley with two away fans at North Greenwich tube earlier in the evening - they were happy and optimistic, I'd just got back from a couple of days in Ireland, all relaxed and content, wondering why the feck I was rushing home for a probable drubbing. If those lads are reading this now - thanks for paying the fare, thanks for the three points. I just hope we're not as generous on the return fixture!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

ITV expertise

They may have lost the Premiership's TV rights, but that doesn't stop ITV making a pig's ear of its football coverage...

Charlton 2-1 Portsmouth

Proper match reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Sunday Times, Sunday People, Wyn Grant, Daily Mirror, The Guardian.

Now, you see, I went out last night, had a little bit to drink, and now it's Sunday lunchtime and I feel as rough as a badger's arse. But while I doubt Shaka Hislop went on a Guinness and vodka spree like I did, I bet he's feeling worse today.

But then again, you need a rub of the green ((C) Football Cliche Corporation 1971) every now and then, and Hislop's 87th-minute foul-up, resulting in an own goal for David Unsworth, gave us a win we quite frankly deserved.

No dramatic change from the Bolton horror - more evoltion than revolution, as Dennis Rommedahl and Danny Murphy settle into the squad. Definite improvements from every player on the field, although Paul Konchesky was a little unlucky to spend most of the game on the bench after being one of our few decent performers at the Reebok. Goal-scorer Jason Euell never stopped working, while Kevin Lisbie - who created the chance for Euell - popped up in all kinds of places - how erratic can one man be? But it's the inventiveness of Rommedahl and Murphy which we're really benefiting from - Rommedahl's run through the field with the ball in the second half is surely a taste of what's to come from the Dane. We just need to be able to take passes from them properly...

The real worry, though, is how lightweight we seem. We're lean without being mean, playing a nice, crisp game, but without really putting our foot in. It'll be interesting to see how Curbs sorts it out - but in the meantime, I'm a bit nervous about the Villa game.

As for Pompey, they huffed, puffed, but never seriously looked like a threat. Patrik Berger's goal might be the best we'll see at The Valley all season, though.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Three wishes for Pompey

1) Just bung the new faces in. For the love of God, let's have Rommedahl, Murphy, El Karkouri, Hughes and Jeffers on from the start. Here's Rommedahl in The Independent, by the way.

2) Some commitment from the players.

3) A decent bit of noise from the fans - I don't want Pompey outsinging us at the first home game of the season. (The mailing list seem to think I called their fans "mindless" last season - actually, it was a comment made by a more eminent fan than me, I'm quite flattered to be confused with him!)

I reckon the first two are definitely achievable. The third's down to you...

So, how about Vassell?

Yesterday's Evening Sub-Standard seemed pretty sure of one thing - if we don't get James Beattie - as is becoming increasingly likely, since David O'Leary won't stop talking about him - then Darius Vassell could be a target.

If their manager, David O'Leary, gets Beattie, that would affect Vassell's first team chances at Villa Park and Charlton are ready to offer him an alternative. (more)

I love the sound of this, but with non-denials of any interest in Andy Reid coming out of The Valley ("paper talk", "speculation") perhaps we're not seeing our forwards as a priority anymore. Although the Standard seems to think we're interested in both - things are starting to get rather interesting. I'd rather have Vassell, but then I know nothing about football. What do you think?

All quiet from the Voice of the Valley

Careful readers of this website may have noticed I had a little pop at the club subsidising a coach from Ramsgate to home games to try and pull locals down there into supporting a London club. I've got no problems with that - Margate, Dover and Maidstone may think otherwise - but I did point out that maybe the effort put into that could be replicated into transport schemes to help ease the pressure on the club's neighbours - a shuttle from North Greenwich tube, or something from Dartford to stop people parking in local roads and to give the tiny Charlton station a rest.

This is all the job of Rick Everitt, who used to be the club's communications officer, where he did a damn good job, and these days speaks for Tony Blair on Bexley Council. Of course, he's best known for the sterling work he did as the Voice Of The Valley fanzine editor in the late 1980s, badgering and corralling the club's management as to why we were being allowed to rot at Selhurst - and later as part of the Valley Party, making Greenwich Council look like a right bunch of pillocks. I remember this, because I read VOTV as a kid for whom Selhurst was a bus ride too far, picking it up from Sportspages in the West End.

Of course, these days he's working for the club, so you'd expect him to uphold the open policy he demanded of the club back in his day. But things are a bit different now, and Mr Everitt has changed his tune, just like Mr Blair once had a CND card but mysteriously lost it.

I'm afraid I have to refer you back to the mailing list, since my comments on the Ramsgate coach were posted there, and someone suggested a response was posted here.

His response?

"Can't be bothered to take the blog that seriously."

Excellent stuff. Of course, I don't demand this is taken seriously, but it's nice to have provoked a reaction. He did post a longer critique of my thoughts, which thought they were "hilarious", adding the Ramsgate bus can help pay for itself on extra ticket sales, but said "things are in the pipeline for the more local area" - whatever that means - "but you don't build support by running loss-making local coaches where it's more convenient to get the bus."

Nothing about the club being a good neighbour - Southampton's park-and-ride to St Mary's, anyone? - or assisting existing fans, of course. Incidentally, those "next game" boards on lamp-posts near the ground had been changed at some point during Friday, giving locals about 24 hours' notice of the usual traffic murder surrounding a game. (Of course, those boards could be updated well in advance, with perhaps a box-office number on them which may even whip up extra revenue - ever thought of that?) This is the sort of unglamorous, dull thing the council will take into account when looking at that Valley expansion plan.

Rick Everitt must remember the problems with the likes of Grace Sole (pig-headed, self-styled Harvey Gardens residents "leader") in the 1980s. I'm sure the club wouldn't be complacent enough to encourage that kind of problem to happen again, would it?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Get with the programme

Interesting to see Charlton offering their programme in digital form from Saturday lunchtimes, so those in places far far away (Margate?) can sit back, crack open a beer and soak up all those exciting reports of what the reserves are getting up to without leaving their home. Actually, I jest, because Charlton's programme is probably one of the best in the country, managing to produce decent things to read and still keeping its price down to £2.50. Anyone who paid £3 for the shiny village newsletter Bolton produced last week will know exactly what I mean.

In fact, I can't think of many decent club programmes at all. Spurs, naturally, produce one of the most hilarious ones, with terms like "Manager" and "Club" getting capital letters just to prove How Important They Are. Fulham's pronouncements from Chairman Mo have undertones of Pravda about them, while anywhere that relies solely on the pen pictures our squad which Charlton's own press office supplies - because that's just lazy - or those awful syndicated statistics charts is probably worth avoiding.

But there are good examples. Leicester's programme managed to last into the following week, while Manchester United's programme is as good as you'd expect from them - although it's contracted out to London publishing giant Haymarket so you'd expect something special. Your own tips for best or worst programmes would be appreciated.

Still, no matter how good ours is, I wonder how thrilled Portsmouth fans will be on Saturday with a combined programme-and-handbook for £5? Hey, maybe they can say they were reading all about James Walker before he became a household name.

Villa victors for Beattie?

Aston Villa say they're still in the hunt for James Beattie - and All Quiet In The East Stand understands they're in with a good chance of grabbing him, as they now appear to be in a position to come up with the money up front. Southampton have left him out of their game against Blackburn this weekend.

Which, if this is true, still leaves us hunting for a new striker to go alongside Jeffers. Oh dear.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Not Charlton-related, but this could happen to us one day in the future...

Much handwringing tonight on Five Live's 6-0-6 over Keiron Dyer's booing by the Geordie faithful as he turned out for England against the Ukraine. Dyer's reportedly had a bust-up with Sir Bobby Robson, rather unwisely, and faces an uncertain future after apparently throwing his toys out of the pram. What naughty fans.

Step in Spoony, 6-0-6's presenter tonight: "Well, I had a chat with Keiron about this... and if those supporters knew the full story..."

Of course, not that Mr Spoony was prepared to share this "full story" with us. And then he cut off a caller who made the point that when England play Wales, "those Welsh lads will bleed for their country. Will Keiron Dyer do the same for England?"

Ah, the cosy world of the media and the Premiership. I think I'm on the side of the jeering Geordies now.

Lazy thinking

All is quiet on the Charlton front so far - apart from more paper talk about Andy Reid. Which should get me excited, but somehow it doesn't.

So, for a diversion, a dip into the Charlton mailing list had to suffice. And boy, did it not disappoint. The deep thinkers there claim Jason Euell is a "lazy" player because... he drives a Bentley. Yup, flash car = crap player. That's even more crackpot than your average 606 caller, isn't it?

Oh, and he's also "lazy" because he opted to play for Jamaica - the traitor! - rather than England, because obviously it's so easy to be picked for Jamaica. Pesky colonials! Yes, this bilge can be yours in your inbox every day if you sign up - like listening to a group of old men who have let the 21st century pass them by.

Meanwhile, the mailing list's other "lazy" target, Carlton Cole, scored two for England Under-21s last night, to much grumbling about attitude and all that. He's clearly in a purple patch not seen since the last happy hour at the Grosvenor House Hotel. It's quite likely that being at a club whose supporters aren't booing him after 15 minutes might be helping him rediscover his form, but that might be a bit too hard for the list to consider.

Rick Everitt launches the new serviceMeanwhile, far, far out of town, the club's decided to subsidise a bus service to games from Ramsgate and Margate. If we ever have the wit to sing "We support our local team" at Manchester United fans again, it's going to sound a bit hollow...

But more seriously, if I was Greenwich Council, reading that news, I'd be thinking this while mulling over the Valley expansion plans. If Charlton can afford to put money into a bus for people travelling from 60 miles away, why doesn't it put money into a bus from Dartford, or Bexleyheath? Or from North Greenwich? It might help the community from which the club takes its name by easing some of the terrible traffic and parking problems on matchdays, and the strain on the painfully inadequate Charlton station.

Obviously it's important for the club to develop its support, but there's no excuse for ignoring what's on its own doorstep. After all, the "next game" signs warning of parking disruption are still advertising the Unity Cup games, weeks after the first home fixture was confirmed. You get the omninous feeling the club is more worried about fans in Herne Bay than its neighbours on The Heights - which if it carries on this way, could spell disaster for any expansion plans.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

They came from the Rose of Denmark...

Two new Charlton blogs to add to the list, both with strong links to the discerning drinkers' favourite that is the Rose of Denmark.

Firstly, eniment internet scribe Wyn Grant has moved into blogging at Addick's Diary - and finding that yes, those Blogger templates can be a pain in the arse at first...

Secondly, there's David Hatch's Addicks Fotopage. You know those pictures of opposing fans on the wall of the Rose of Denmark? Well, he's put them online - as well as a whole lot more.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Monday after

Two days after Saturday's despairing performance, have I calmed down? Not really, but of course these opening-days disasters are tempered by the knowledge that we're good at bouncing back from them and that Alan Curbishley is a man who is good at learning lessons. For Matt Holland, last seen being yanked into a free-kick wall by Danny Murphy before Okocha's opener, it means a possible twisted ankle which could see him out for six weeks. Ouch.

I still can't quite believe Curbs' words that Bartlett and Lisbie were among our better least awful players - so much so that I'm 90% convinced he was misquoted. Bartlett, slightly unfairly, tends to escape criticism in my eyes because he's so anonymous on the field - how poor must South African football be if he's getting picked as their striker? I get the feeling he's still dining out on those goals he scored against Manchester United in 2000. And he wasn't even under contract to us then, if I remember rightly. Lisbie I've dealt with - and no, I still don't want to see him in a Charlton shirt again. For Bartlett's United goals, for Lisbie, it's that hat-trick against Liverpool last season. To those who defend him, I say this - he's not the youngster we thought had a great future any more. He's 25 years old. He has a wife and child. He's a grown man, and he should play like one, not like some sulky teenager. I really hope Curbs has a little something up his sleeve to put the fear of God into this pair - Jeffers is going to need someone good to work with, after all.

For these reasons, I'm a little alarmed at the News of the World's report that we're preparing to shell out for Andy Reid. £5m for a midfielder without top-flight experience? I'm a bit concerned here. I could be wrong, of course, but I'd suggest it's our strikers who need the most attention - it's no good having the best midfield in the world if we've strikers who'll just stand and watch (Bartlett) or fall over (Lisbie).

Of course, by that token, it's no good having the best strikers if we've a crap midfield. But I want to see Rommedahl, Hughes and Murphy start on Saturday. At the back, I want to see El Karkouri make an appearance. (Fish, Fortune and Young had a howlingly awful day at Bolton.) And Jeffers up front. Then we'll see just how wrong Curbs was to have left our new signings on the bench at Bolton.

  • Here's something from The Times about the challenges Paolo Di Canio will face at Lazio.

  • Saturday, August 14, 2004

    Bolton 4-1 Charlton

    Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, Manchester Evening News, ITV Football, The Observer, Sunday Times, Sunday People, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, The Sun, Daily Mirror, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times.

    A phonebox in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester:
    Tons of time until my train back to London and so much frustration to get off my chest. One of the most gutless Charlton performances I have ever seen, and one which was compounded by one of Curbs' off-days. To put it mildly. Of the new signings, only Danny Murphy came on from the start, and he was the best player in a red shirt by a country mile. Yet, after we went 3 down, which player wasit who took off? Yup, Crewe's finest was pulled off along with Konchesky, another of our better players.

    The guilty men? Luke Young was appallingly weak, Mark Fish seemed more interested in his personal feud with the Bolton fans he walked out on many years ago - best not to make wanker gestures at the opposition when you're playing like one yourself, eh? Our defence gave Jay Jay Okocha so much room, he could have waited for and then caught a bus to get to the goal mouth for his opener. Jason Euell was ineffectual, Dean Kiely had a mare and the clamour for Andersen will no doubt grow.

    But the real criminals were Shaun Bartlett and Kevin Lisbie. Bartlett was such a spectator he may as well have paid £29 and sat with me. Asfor Lisbie, I never want to see him in a Charlton shirt again. If he pays my train fare and admission to the Reebok out of his undeserved salary, I may think again.

    the only Bolton fan at Manchester PiccadillyKevin, do you realise that people sacrifice their precious time and money to see you fanny about? Do you really care, mate?

    As for Curbishley, he had better make Lisbie care. Like the new players cared. Jeffers was screaming for a ball which Lisbie fumbled over, then finally appeared to fall over. Send in the clowns, it can't get any worse than this.

    Although I wouldn't go as far as the "Curbs out" lobby gathered at Horwich Parkway station, among Bolton fans who couldn't believe their luck. After all, these are probably the same bright sparks who booed Carlton Cole. Heard what he did at Villa, lads?

    Right, the train calls. It's a long ride to St Pancras on the diverted line - hopefully the Peak District scenery will calm me down!

    (Back home: Looking at Curbs' quotes after the game - "The only people I can exonerate are the six I left on the bus... and the two boys up front." Eh?! Does this mean more crap from Tweedledum and Tweedledee? It's time to stop indulging them and get new blood in. Oh, arse, Alan Hansen's just said we definitely won't go down...)

    Premier plonkers

    Everyone knows there are few people more vain, stupid and greedy in football than those who run it.

    But this confirms it - every Premiership game this season will kick off with a special handshake and anthem. No, I'm not taking the mickey, here it is. As you can hear, it was probably rejected from some local TV news bulletin in the 1990s.

    Apparently, it's all about the "image of the game", which is something like rampant greed, screwing over its customers and making sure only the biggest sides ever get any recognition.

    Please, give it a good boo whenever you hear it. Maybe they'll pack it in and get on with what matters. The football.

    And just to confirm what a level playing field we're now on, the refs are going to be sponsored by Emirates.

    Which is a suitably optimistic way to lead into what is without doubt going to be Charlton's most interesting season for many years. For those on the Bolton bandwagon - see you there.

    Friday, August 13, 2004

    No Beatting about the bush

    JAMES BEATTIE has rocked Southampton with a transfer request — and Charlton are favourites to sign him after making a £6million bid. (more)

    This one has the whiff of truth about it - and apparently, we're the only club to have put in a cash bid. Fingers crossed for an England hat-trick.

    Thursday, August 12, 2004

    Charlton cash in on Cole

    Of course, every Charlton fan said Peter Varney was right all along. Nobody said it wasn't worth pursuing Chelsea because Carlton Cole was "lazy", did they? Of course not.

    Here's 1,500,000 reasons why a lot of people were very, very wrong.

    ALAN CURBISHLEY has been told to carry on spending after Charlton won £1.5million in their row with Chelsea.

    The Blues had agreed to loan Carlton Cole for another season as part of the £12m deal which took Scott Parker to Stamford Bridge in January.

    But when Cole snubbed the move, Chelsea refused to allow them another player of first-team quality and were forced to agree a cash settlement.

    The Premier League were ready to step in and settle the row before Chelsea backed down.

    The terms of the settlement actually remain confidential, as Peter Varney says in Charlton's statement. Chelsea, however, having been found out trying to cheat us out of part of the Scott Parker transfer, can't help but have a little dig.

    "Media reports, however, that the agreement is £1.5m are wildly inaccurate." (more)

    This is nonsense. All Quiet In The East Stand understands that the Sun's report of £1.5m is, more or less, accurate. Naturally, Chelsea would want this hushed up. They've been caught trying to cheat us on a transfer. A transfer they conducted in disreputable fashion anyway. A Premier League judgement against them might unleash all kinds of revelations they'd rather keep quiet. Next they'll be denying they tapped up Scott Parker.

    Scott who? Oh yes. Just remember when your local is packed full of mugs in blue shirts watching their new-found club play Manchester United on Sunday, that their club has now blown £11.5m on a player who's not done much more than get a splintered arse. Still, if you can't compete on the field, buy, buy away.

    So, what to do with this money? Buy a player? Well, James Beattie has been the subject of wild rumours again. Curbs' appearance at the City Ground for Nottingham Forest's 1-1 draw with Ipswich has added more fuel to an Andy Reid which looked like it'd been put out a while back. It'd be good to get a name before Bolton - watch the papers tomorrow, and cross your fingers.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Paolo's farewell and Franny's hello

    ""This is possibly the most difficult career decision I have ever had to make and I can only apologise to Alan Curbishley and the supporters of Charlton, for whom I have the greatest affection.

    "I have often said I wished I joined Charlton earlier in my career, and whatever has happened I will always believe this to be so.

    "The supporters were always right behind me and I hope they will not be angry with me and will understand that, where your family is involved, you sometimes have to do things which are very painful."

    Okay, maybe it wasn't such a sour farewell to Paolo Di Canio after all. Beautifully handled - and farewell to a true gentleman. Hopefully we will be able to get that Lazio friendly next year.

    And as a final Paolo point, here's an apt Netaddicks thread.

    In the meantime, it's over to the new occupant of the number 11 shirt, Francis Jeffers:

    "When a club is able to bring in the likes of Dennis Rommedahl and Danny Murphy it's definitely one going places - I look around this place and it really excites me." (more)

    This is probably old news now, but James Beattie's agent claims Southampton turned down a £6m bid from us for the striker.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2004

    Ciao, Paolo

    Of course, Lazio then had to jump the gun...

    I would not have settled for anything else," Di Canio told Lazio's website after his transfer was confirmed.

    "To wear the blue-and-white shirt again is really special. I have always been a true Lazio fan, even when my career took me a long way from Rome."

    Nothing from us, although the South London Press said earlier today that Paolo was due to meet Curbs tomorrow to formally end his contract. Shame that Lazio had to jump the gun, really, since it looks like spoiling what should be an amicable parting.

    Interestingly, Paolo will have a brief at Lazio of bring through new young players - just what many of us here wanted him to do. One year after it started, Paolo's adventure in south-east London is over - and it was too much to expect him to sign for a second deal after all.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes him all the best for our future, after his skill and enthusiasm electrified our side last season. If you were sat on that miserable away end at Portsmouth last year and saw us go from 1-0 losers to 2-1 winners, you'll know what I mean.

    And while the manner of Paolo's departure may leave a bitter taste, events elsewhere today will ensure it won't last for long.

    Remember this day

    So, where were you when you heard we'd signed Danny Murphy? And then where were you when you heard we'd signed Francis Jeffers? I was deep underground when both signings were announced, emerging to a beeping mobile bearing the news. So one thing's for certain - I'm taking more Tube journeys in future. But more importantly, this should be a day we'll remember for years to come. For all the right reasons. We're signing England internationals.

    Firstly, Crewe's finest, announced at 1.20pm, came to The Valley with wise words.

    "Contrary to reports, I had the choice to go to Spurs and play first-team football, but I came here because I thought that the club was on a level with, if not taking over Tottenham and with Alan in charge I think they can definitely keep progressing that way and become bigger than Tottenham." (more)

    (Here's a sober assessment of his talents from a Liverpool fan on the 606 board.)

    Secondly, a rare-sighting of the Lesser-Spotted Angry Curbs.

    "Everyone talks about Tottenham and I don't know why. They should be talking about us.

    "Spurs were a little bit naïve and a little bit spiteful to be honest.

    "We agreed a fee last week with Liverpool but in football things get out and he spoke to both clubs, and yesterday he made his decision and things come out in the press which aren’t really true."

    As well as...

    "We're still looking at bringing in a striker and we want to strengthen in one other position."

    And no sooner had the TV vans headed up Floyd Road, than Curbs got his man again - by 7pm, Francis Jeffers' arrival was confirmed.

    "Arsenal paid a lot of money for him a few years ago but he found it difficult to claim a first-team place because of the competition at Arsenal.

    "He needed a change and he's exactly the sort of player I like to sign because I feel he's angry and hungry after the last couple of years.

    "I'm hoping that we can put his career back on track."

    And hopefully relations between Curbs and Jeffers can remain harmonious - after enduring Highbury hell our new striker suffered a Moyes mare on loan back at Everton, having a bust-up with the Toffees boss at the end of last season.

    Good, innit? Can you remember a better day for this club in the transfer market?

    Danny Murphy fact: Murphy is married to former Hollyoaks actress Joanna Taylor. Here's an exciting news story about her teeth.

    Francis Jeffers fact: He went to the same primary school as Wayne Rooney.

    Any other business: Southampton turn down a bid for James Beattie from Aston Villa, deeming a £6m bid too low. Can't see him coming here now, can you? And Joey Barton says he wants to stay at Manchester City, or in his own words: "I don't ever want to leave this club. I've always been made welcome here."

    Oh, and I think it's fair to say that Curbs and Richard Murray have really done us proud today. Raise a glass of something good to them tonight. A fantastic day to be a Charlton supporter - I hope it leads us to many better days in the future.

    Right, I think I need a lie down now...

    The curse of Sky

    If you're worried those big billboard ads featuring Paolo Di Canio and Jason Euell are going to look a bit daft in a couple of days, spare a thought for West Brom fans.

    Sky Sports last night pledged to take down these billboard posters featuring Lee Hughes within 24 hours following his conviction.

    Adverts for Sky's coverage of the Premiership season were put up last week across Birmingham and the Black Country.

    Individual posters featured different Midland Premiership teams and the one for West Bromwich Albion was of players congratulating Hughes after scoring. Under a picture of Hughes smiling was the slogan: 'The Big Boing. Every Barclays Premiership game. Live or near-live.'

    Ooops. In the meantime, if any young, frustrated kids want to use the large Chelsea ad just by Westcombe Park station as some sort of target practice, then their secret will be safe with me.

    Getting slightly more excited...

    The Sun:

    CHARLTON hope to wrap up a sensational double swoop by snapping up Danny Murphy and Francis Jeffers. (more)

    ...but the same paper says Aston Villa have offered £6m for James Beattie.

    Monday, August 09, 2004

    Murphy's mob

    Liverpool's Rivals.net site Shankly Gates is convinced we've got our hands on Danny Murphy after his move to Spurs collapsed tonight.

    Exclusive - Danny Murphy is set to turn his back on a potential move to Tottenham Hotspur by signing for Charlton Athletic in a deal believed to be worth around £3m. (more)

    Also in the north-west, the Manchester Evening News has its tu'pence worth on Joey Barton.

    So, we've got Barton and Murphy being linked with us, plus the Beattie thing's still at the back of my mind. There's talk of Francis Jeffers (again) as well, although the Evening Sub-Standard thinks Jeremie Aliadiere's injury in yesterday's Community Shield would put the kibosh on that.

    But what have these four players got in common? Young(ish), English, and hungry. Just how Curbs likes them. Now, fingers crossed...

    The end is nigh for Paolo...

    One year ago tomorrow, we stunned ourselves by signing Paolo Di Canio. You probably might have thought to yourself then, "Oh, he'll be gone within a year, it'll all go horribly wrong some way or other."

    So, twelve months on, why is Paolo's almost-certain departure to Lazio - after signing a new deal with us - putting such a cloud over The Valley?

    Lazio sporting director Oreste Cinquini said: "We are hoping to make Paolo Di Canio's signing official on Tuesday.

    "The player is currently in talks with Charlton.

    "We have had negotiations with Di Canio and we are just waiting to see how those talks work out."

    I guess it's because it comes on top of the still-unresolved Cole debacle, and means we're two strikers down on an already-puny rosta of forwards. If we'd got hold of a new striker or two earlier, Paolo's departure would have been inconsequential.

    If his father really is unwell - his family moved back to Italy during the summer - then it'd be difficult to stand in the way of a return home. But I hope we can bring some new blood in before Paolo goes, or it's going to look grim for Saturday's trip to Bolton.

    In the meantime, West Brom are still being linked with Paul Konchesky, who remains on the transfer list after a year (any longer and it'll be in the Guinness Book of Records), while ex-Bolton winger Ibrahim Ba has popped up on tonight's reserve team-sheet for the season opener at Fulham.

    Doing a Joey

    Today's Evening Sub-Standard:

    Charlton are set to make a move for Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton.

    Alan Curbishley has been impressed by Barton's all-action style and hopes he will be one of three new players expected to sign in the next two weeks.

    And in the "oh, take him away, please", category, a possible move to Sunderland for television's Shaun Bartlett, although I can't quite track down where this story has come from. It's probably not true anyway. Still, just for amusement since it's Monday and it's raining, here's what the Black Cats' Footy Mad site says:

    Shaun Bartlett appears to be interesting Mick McCarthy after beind told by Charlton that he is no longer in their plans. A move for Bartlett would be welcomed by myself, as he is a player with more than enough ability, especially in the The Championship and adds something different upfront. (more)

    Sunday, August 08, 2004

    Scouse surprise

    Via the News of the World...

    "Danny Murphy is set to leave Liverpool after the club accepted two £2.5m bids for him from Tottenham and Charlton." (more)

    Well, Liverpool have just confirmed part of this story... unfortunately, it's the Tottenham part.

    Saturday, August 07, 2004

    Rumour mill latest

    This luscious, juicy posting on the BBC's 606 board yesterday set minds racing - Beattie for £5.75m?

    The Charlton players have already been made aware of this and it will be interesting to monitor their continuing reaction. For instance, one has flown to Italy already, as he cannot see himself starting as many games as he would like. And one has been given permission to talk to Norwich (but not Chrystal Palace). (more)

    Which could explain why Kevin Lisbie looked slightly more perky than usual last night. (Incidentally, Betfair.com is quoting odds of up to 1,000-1 on Jason Euell for the Premiership's golden boot.)

    Of course, this could all be hogwash, but it looks good, doesn't it? And we all know what bollocks gets spouted on the internet.

    Charlton 3-1 Chievo Verona

    Report: cafc.co.uk

    Crap game, crap crowd (7,853), and I've really nothing to say about the game, except our midfield was non-existent, but clearly the threat of someone new coming in has galvanised our strikers. Oh, and Bryan Hughes can take a neat penalty. But to be honest, I'd rather have stayed in and watched Big Brother.

    Events elsewhere are hanging over us - as Curbs admitted after the game. Like Paolo's future.

    "It's been very difficult for him - he came back to pre-season but his family stayed in Italy. His father is 75 and he's torn a bit. The timing is bad to be honest. We'll have to sort it all out in the week. If he stays in Italy, we'll thank him for what he did last season, if he comes back we know he will have made a difficult decision.

    "He can't sign for Lazio because he's registered to us. We decide if he leaves. He's got some difficult decisions to make and we'll have to wait and see what happens. We will respect his decision."

    Meanwhile, rather sadly, Paul Rachubka has gone on loan to MK Lepers. Principles? Nah, forget it.

    Thursday, August 05, 2004

    You think you've got problems?

    See, you try being the bloody manager, says a Mr A Curbishley of Essex.

    "There are three players who are now with other clubs in the Premiership. We were in there but could not win the day. We have to accept that we’re not going to win should we go head to head with certain clubs over players. And I’m talking about wages.

    "But we’re desperate, desperate to do some business before the season kicks off. I want two, if not three. If we can’t do it before Bolton, then I hope it will be before August 31 when the transfer window closes."

    I wonder if any national papers or crap websites will try to spin this as a "Curbs hits out at wage cap" story? Of course, if you think we should be matching our rivals' wage offers, then maybe you should go to Bradford and see what it did to them. Or Leeds. Or maybe take a trip to Everton and see what it's doing to them now. Or just stay in your armchair and watch Chelsea.

    (Incidentally, today's Deloitte report into football finance reveals Millwall's wage bill outstripped their turnover in the season before last. Whoops.)

    Meanwhile, there's curious moves on the south coast...

    SAINTS have challenged James Beattie's agent to state publicly the player has no intention of quitting St Mary's.

    The club have virtually accused well-respected agent Jon Smith of trying to engineer a move for his client.

    Speculation has surrounded the player all summer, but Saints insist they have received no formal offer despite reported interest from Newcastle, Tottenham and Charlton.

    Must just say to myself one more time: "Don't... go... building... your... hopes... up..."

    But the really baffling stuff is going on in Italy.

    Seven days ago, Paolo di Canio was sat inside an inflatable five-a-side enclosure on Blackheath, chatting with kids, charming their mums and generally being The Coolest Man In The World. But today, a story which had been safely written off as nonsense suddenly reared its ugly head, with the Italian press suddenly going beserk about a possible move to Lazio. Heaven knows what any of this lot means, any Italian speakers are more than welcome to get in touch.

    Unfortunately, it seems "a Charlton spokesman", no doubt grappling with Italian Google and Babelfish, was in the dark as we were when he spoke to BBC Sport:

    "We have not heard of any deal involving Paolo di Canio." (more)

    Later, Peter Varney stepped up to the oche. Paolo won't be playing against Chievo tomorrow night.

    "Paolo has a number of personal issues at the moment, which he needs to address urgently in Italy.

    "We will be meeting with him when he returns to England early next week."

    Meanwhile, Sky Sports.com gets on the blower to his agent Moreno Roggi. It sounds ominous.

    "There is no agreement with Lazio. He spoke with the club and, in a few days, we will know something but, at the moment, he's still bound to the English side.

    "They spoke only about the possibility to see him back home and the player gave his general disposition in this sense but, first of all, there is the need for an agreement between the two clubs."

    Reading between the lines, and making a couple of uneducated guesses, does this mean that "personal issues" could mean a move to Italy? I hope not, since Paolo's obvious enthusiasm and love of life rubs off on all around him, from his team-mates to the fans. And he'd better not go because he's on those Sky "TELLY ADDICKS" billboards. But, hey, if we do lose him, then maybe we could get a bit of money for him, and after all, his effectiveness did dip as the season wore on.

    But it's worrying to see something which was so obviously rubbish at the start of the summer look like becoming a reality. And you wonder why Curbs is so frustrated?

    Wednesday, August 04, 2004

    Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

    Okay, let's try to get some of this in perspective.

    The pre-season friendlies have been wretched, our only victories being that balmy night at Park View Road and away at mighty Wycombe. I hate to think what would happen if we lost against Chievo on Friday, but there's a long way until then. And I've been thinking. Consider, if you like, the following situations.

    Transfers: Remember that we didn't sign Paolo Di Canio until 10 August last year, and the Carlton Cole loan deal didn't come along until a couple of days after that. We were similarly desperate for a striker before that. And what indications did we have of either of those deals happening? Absolutely none. So calm down. It'll be alright. And maybe Rupert Lowe will have to eat his words. If we're desperate, the transfer window still has four whole weeks to go yet. But let's not go there just yet. We might even be surprised by the end of the week.

    Cole: We've still got this business to settle yet, and I'm sure the Premier League would like to get this out of the way before the season starts. Remember, this all hinges on what exactly was in the Scott Parker transfer deal. It could result in another player coming in on loan - or it could result in more funds for the transfer kitty. It could result in the Premier League laughing in our face, although bearing in mind Chelsea were pretty confident on their website about the deal, that would be a bit of a surprise.

    So that's it. I've stuck my neck out. I've decided my 1970s CHARLTON - VALIANTS mug is half-full rather than half-empty. It could still be a whole lot worse.

    Reeding and riting with Chrystal Palarse

    Never mind surviving relegation from the Premiership, Crystal Palace are having trouble spelling their own name.

    The Eagles find themselves rooted to the bottom of the literacy league after selling official shirts with the club's name shown incorrectly.

    The blue and red striped tops bear the legend 'Chrystal Palace' under one of the crests, an error repeated on blue and white away shirts and grey goalkeeping tops.

    Palace fan Joe Collins, of Tooting, London, told BBC Sport: "If the club can't even get their name right, how can we expect the players to do the business on the pitch? It makes us look like a total bunch of clowns."

    I'm saying nothing.

    Don't panic!

    We draw 2-2 against Colchester in another pre-season friendly.

    Everton and Portsmouth want Michael Carrick, driving up his value.

    Robert Earnshaw scores a stunning goal for Cardiff against Lazio, upping his price tag once again.

    But like I said.... don't panic!

    Monday, August 02, 2004

    Peter Garland watch

    Fans of midfield maestro Peter Garland, read on - he's resurfaced at Dulwich Hamlet.

    Despite the excess baggage (definitely ON the field time, but he did look noticeably leaner in this game), he is without a doubt the most skilful and intelligent player that has been at Dulwich in the past decade. (more)

    More at Crap Match Reports.

    Konch finally in demand (allegedly)

    Blimey, if you believe Wolverhampton's Express and Star newspaper, then somebody wants to take Paul Konchesky off our hands, after one whole year on the transfer list.

    "Albion boss Gary Megson will continue the overhaul of his squad this week as Paul Konchesky and Anderlecht striker Aruna Dindane became the lastest names to be linked with a move to The Hawthorns." (more)

    That'd probably persuade our Konch to get his arse off the transfer list once and for all, I'd hope.

    Sunday, August 01, 2004

    This season's moan about the Sky TV ad

    Is it me, or does Charlton not feature at all in the current TV ad for Sky's new Premiership coverage? There's some blokes in Man City outfits hanging around an anonymous gate which is actually at The Valley, but that's all. Of course, some stripey side from South Norwood features, but not us...