Bravo OL. Manifique. Apologies in the highly unlikely event that any Rangers supporter ever stumbles across this, but what a delight it was to see the mighty Olympic Lyonnais secure their rightful place in the final stages of the Champions League. Not for them the miserable consolation of the Uefa Cup (who wants a losers’ cup?); it’s onwards to glory in Moscow in May, where Lyon will finally be recognised as the very epicentre of footballing excellence, good taste, intelligence, beauty, wonderful food and wine, and the art of purchasing shoes.
There, Suzanne, will that do? Can we now dispense with any further suggestion of punishment for the absurd idea, put in a previous post purely for poetic licence, that I might ever have thought of any other woman for a nanosecond, even when I was 10 years old (does it help to repair my tattered standing in your eyes that when I was 10 I thought of just about every woman on the planet? No, I guess not). Or before then for that matter, just in case there was any doubt. On Saturday afternoon I shall think of nothing but you. OK, I will give some thought to how Charlton are faring against West Brom. So there is an element of sharing. But that’s all.
On Lyon, it really is remarkable how some ‘pundits’ can make their living out of commenting on football and be so obviously ignorant of what goes on outside of their immediate universe. On the Beeb on Saturday they talked about whether Rangers could ‘do it’ and the consensus was ‘of course’. Mark Lawrenson, with remarkable insight, drew our attention to the seemingly little-known fact that Rangers had won 3-0 in Lyon, so why can’t they win at Ibrox? Had anyone bothered to check, Lyon had what was by their standards a very poor start to the season, with a new manager and some new players. For a while they weren’t even top of the French league. Rangers played them during this period. Over the past couple of months Lyon’s form has improved considerably.
For obvious reasons I tend to track Lyon’s performance rather more closely than most. But I don’t make my living out of commenting on football (just as well) and it’s not exactly difficult for those that do to keep tabs. Usually the inadequacies of the pundits are exposed when the BBC has to show interest in the early rounds of the FA Cup, with every effort made to suggest that a dire kickabout on a mudbath contained some quality and that the commentators have done more than rehearse their patronising clichés and read the notes prepared by their researchers on players they have never before come across. I have never heard anything worth listening to from Lawrenson in particular but at least he is only dull and uninformed; Garth Crookes seems so ill at ease and manic that he manages to make stating the bleedin’ obvious appear somehow akin to analysis. And while John Barnes may have displayed grace and artistry on the football pitch and the dance floor, put him in front of a camera and he’s more wooden than Pinnochio.
Clearly some take to the pundit role with more ease than others. While we stay on the theme of ex-Charlton players Gavin Peacock manages to sound coherent and insightful and appear relaxed, as do others. As in every organisation, sometimes you make an investment in an individual believing they will make the grade. And as in most organisations the BBC seems incapable of bringing itself to recognise that sometimes the investment was a mistake (just as a 10-year-old once made a poor emotional investment in a distant cousin – ha, it’s OK, Suzanne will not have bothered to read this far down; if she has it’s the kitchen for me, interspersed with frequent trips to the doghouse, over new year).
Thinking of Lyon provides a link into part three. I was coming over all statto at the weekend with a series of questions that only Colin Cameron might know the answer to (or care about the answers). First, when was the last time we conceded a penalty in three consecutive home games (at least it’s only three so far)? Second, with Holland and Ambrose scoring in the last couple of games we have now racked up no fewer than 11 goalscorers in the 21 league games so far this season (not including an own goal), so what is the highest number we have ever recorded over a full season and are we on course to top it? And third, returning to the international theme, has there been more than one former Charlton player who went on to play in the Brazilian league?
The final question was going to be the theme for a separate post, but life’s too short. I was looking to see where all the players we had last season have ended up. Of course we know where most of them are. But what about Gonzalo Sorondo and Omar Pouso? It seems that Pouso has disappeared back into Uruguay to play for C.A.Penarol. But Sorondo now seems to be plying his trade in Brazil, for Sport Club Internacional. According to Wikipedia, they play in red shirts and white shorts. So it must have been difficult for him to adjust to a kit that he has never performed in before.
So when the question comes up, which Charlton footballer went on to play in Brazil you know the answer (has there ever been another?). That in turn set me thinking about Charlton players who went on to star on the international stage. We’ve had our share of overseas players who were on their way down and/or returned to their native land to play. But ones who went on to better things abroad? I can only think of Eddie Firmani and Paul Elliott, Of course, if Sorondo goes on to star for Uruguay and to set the Brazilian league alight he could be added to the list (so could Diawara if he helps take Bordeaux to another level). But I don’t really think of him as a former Charlton player, more of a temporary enigma (why did we sign him? Why was he always injured? Why did we get rid of him – for nothing - when he was finally fit and when we ended up needing centre-backs?).