Thursday, 28 June 2007

Pre-Season Tournament: Who'd Win?

Assuming that the BBC hasn't suddenly gone all tabloid and the Darren Bent sale is confirmed over the next few days, the way would seem clear for Pardew to spend a little money, although surely most will have to go on covering losses. I'd be very surprised if we paid more than £2m for a new player (then again, Liverpool have just signed a new, young goalkeeper, so if Carson was after all available ....) and would instead expect a few loan signings after 1 July.

Bent's departure does help to clarify the line-up for what would be an interesting pre-season mini-tournament between the following four teams:

Team One (the Pardew new boys/those not available last season) - the Babies XI: Randolph, Yassin, Gibbs, McCarthy, Semedo, Jensen, Reid, Christensen, Dickson, Varney, Iwelumo.

Team Two (the maybe - some hopefully - ex-CAFC boys, managed by Les Reed) - Dad's Army: Myhre, Sankofa, Thatcher, Fortune, Diawara, Holland, Hughes, Faye, Thomas, Bent(M), Lisbie.

Team Three (they don't fit but they're still around, managed by Mark Robson) - The Odds & Sods: Elliot, Ashton, Youga, Walton, Bougherra, Ambrose, Weston, John, Sam, Walker, Carvill.

Team Four (the definitely ex-CAFC boys, managed by Ian Dowie) - The Great, The Good & The Failures: Carson, Young, Traore, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Song, Kishishev, Zheng, Rommadahl, Hasselbaink, Bent(D).

OK, they aren't perfect fits and there's a bit of poetic license to make tolerably coherent line-ups. Young hasn't definitely gone (Team Four needed a right-back); Team One is short of a left-back, includes Reid who in theory was available for part of last season (he doesn't easily fit into a Babies XI either), and plays 4-3-3; there's no real suggestion that Sankofa will be off (basically Team Two needed a right-back), and the Odds & Sods XI is by definition a bit of a mishmash (and a little harsh on a couple who could have made Team Two).

However, there's not a bad symmetry - and could any other football club present four such line-ups based on those available since the start of last season and still have some to spare? There were no places for Sorondo, Puoso, Andersen and - being strictly accurate and going by the squad numbers in the programme for the Man Utd game - Euell and Bolanos (yes, he had number 23), plus Gislason, Stanton and Taska (that's eight, nearly Team Five).

So who'd win the tournament?

Odds on Team Three would come bottom, with Team Two (iffy defence, ageing midfield, nothing up front) not much above them. But whether the energetic and committed Team One (lack of experience, untested combinations) could overcome the mix of prima donnas, failures, and the much-lamented that makes up Team Four has to be doubtful. You have to say that with a spine of Carson, Hreidarsson/El Karkouri and DB they would start strong favourites (this is hardly surprising, we are having to cut our cloth). The defence looks suspect but good enough for the Championship; the midfield looks interesting (and something of a contrast with resources available in that area to Team One); and the forward combination was, for a brief period, one that we saw as the dream ticket. But I have given them Dowie as manager.

(As an aside, and without wishing to go all Ronnie Corbett, while checking the numbers in last season's handbook I was struck by the Hasselbaink interview. The headline quote was "I definitely have the hunger and I definitely think I have two more years in me. I feel like a little boy getting a bit of candy". Personally, JFH, I feel like some moaning, fat-ass has-been just nicked all my sweets.)

As far as our starting XI for next season is concerned, going on the basis strictly of who is at present a Charlton player (ie still including that that are expected to go, like Myhre, but not those whose exit is only awaiting formal confirmation, like Rommadahl) I would select the following team. Of course it's going to change before Scunthorpe, so it's a work in progress to be updated regularly:

First XI: Myhre, Young, McCarthy, Diawara, Thatcher, Reid, Faye, Holland, Thomas, Iwelumo, Varney.

Subs: Randolph, Yassin, Bougherra, Dickson, Ambrose

Squad Players: Elliot, Youga, Ashton, Semedo, Walton, Sankofa, Christensen, Gibbs, Hughes, Bent(M), Lisbie, Sam, Fortune, Jensen, Weston, John, Carvill, Gislason, Stanton.

1 comment:

charlton north-downs said...

Good Post Blackheath, We just need that magical midfield player a Kinsela/Parker-unfortunately they are not ten a penny. Just have a sneaky feeling that Mad Dog Walton might fulful his potential, if given a chance. It would suit me to see a young energetic team with a little experience thrown in for good measure.