The near total collective silence – not just from Charlton blogs but also the official site – pretty much sums it up. We’ve all had enough and are ready for our summer break, which needs to be long and hot before we can think about getting up for the start of next season. Just like I felt a couple of seasons ago after Curbs’ departure. That’s when the season ticket renewal forms drop through the letterbox. There really ought to be a way of choosing the timing to coincide with our best performance of the season. Not this time for sure. But supporting a club is not just about milking the good times, it’s not even about a proper sense of perspective when we lose. August? Underneath it all I really can’t wait. Bring it on.
And yet. What’s wrong with me? (That’s a rhetorical question, not an invitation for very many suggestions.) I can’t quite yet get closure on this season. I know we’ve not been good enough, I know we have to overtake three teams and that we have to make up four points – maybe more depending on Wolves – with three games to go. And our cause wasn’t helped by Ipswich’s win on Sunday. There is very little chance – and mixed feelings about even thinking about it. But it is still there. Just look at the fixtures: Wolves lose to West Brom tonight, then play Ipswich on Saturday. A draw there. Palace play away at Watford and lose. We beat QPR. Suddenly we’re on 64 points, level with Ipswich, two more than Wolves and one behind Palace. With two games to go.
Bottom line is it ain’t quite done yet. It should be, it almost certainly is, and surely it will be on Saturday. But can the team at least give it a go? To put the chances in context, I just had a conversation with a mate asking me what’s gone wrong at Charlton. I started to say that we could still conceivably make the play-offs. Now this guy is the tightest git in christendom and has a well-deserved reputation for never striking bets except on the most extreme terms favourable to himself. He said that if Charlton make the play-offs he will pay for all my drinks one evening until I fall over. And if we get promoted through the play-offs he will pay for an evening, restaurant of my choice, with another friend and any Charlton fan representative I care to choose, and Suzanne if she happened to be over from France. And there’s no quid pro quo. I’m holding him to it, but not holding my breath.
I don’t really want to dwell on Pardew’s post-Southampton rationale for our failure this season. A look at the statistics should be enough to confirm that it’s not been the lack of goals at home that’s been our undoing, it’s the number conceded. Far too often we have gone behind at home and had to chase the game. He’s right that in many games we’ve managed to come back but not gone on to win. But the greater sin has been falling behind in the first place.
On to happier things. For anyone interested in the progress of Lyon Duchere it’s as you were after Saturday’s round of games. La Duch recorded a decent 2-0 home win over Bourg-Perronas, but Marseille B kept up the pressure with a 1-0 away victory over Saint-georges-les-Ancizes. My information flows do not yet extend to match reports. But it would seem clear that while Lyon Duchere strolled to a comfortable win, putting on an exhibition for the fans (by the way it seems that the ground capacity is some 5,600 – much more than I thought), the referee’s decision to allow Marseille’s last-minute winner, which was so far offside it wasn’t true, smacked of corruption. Outraged.
Next up for Lyon Duchere on Saturday is a tricky away fixture at Gueugnon, who are fourth in the league and who depending on the mystifying – and as yet undeciphered - points system in this league could make a late charge for promotion. It will be one to test the nerves. Marseille are at home to Beaune, who are second from bottom. That’s hardly surprising to anyone who has visited the town (as we were discussing before Saturday’s game in the pub). If I lived in Beaune (chance would be a fine thing) I would be permanently plastered, probably housed by the nuns out of pity. Turning out for the football team would not be a priority. So, Marseille should have the points (however many) in the bag and it’s all down to La Duch to prove themselves.
Sounds vaguely familiar, but let’s hope for a different ending. Because if it is indeed all over on Saturday I can at least book the cheap flights and the tickets for the final game of the season and (hopefully) the title decider. The chances are that some other teams will be doing something around Wembley that weekend.