Saturday, 18 April 2009

Hurt, Angry ...

Hurt, angry, pissed off. Not because we’ve been relegated (although that hardly fills me with joy), but because we failed to win a game that was there for the taking. Just another poor team that comes to The Valley and goes away happy. I guess a lot is down to expectations. Against Birmingham we were heartened by a solid and committed performance against a team intent on promotion and winning, and could easily have won – only to see comments on sites from Birmingham fans saying they should be beating teams like Charlton. Today we didn’t match that level of intensity and, after the game should have been won in a few minutes when we scored twice, ended up handing a very ordinary Blackpool team, that I expected us to beat, a point.

After a most enjoyable pre-match drink, the team news was surprising. No Kandol or Dickson, even on the bench, with Burton brought into play the lone striker and Tuna given a subs place, alongside Randolph, Holland, Spring and Wagstaff. Basically the same set-up as before - 4-5-1 with the defence and midfield unchanged – but it was hard to see possible changes that could win us the game.

The first half was, quite frankly, boring. It had all the drama of a pre-season friendly, belying all the talk of ending the season on a high. Blackpool offered next to nothing, while we offered an object lesson in how not to shoot. We worked some good situations, with Shelvey in particular making space outside the box and turning well to create a number of opportunities. But while we may have had 10 or so shots not one was on target. And there was no sense of drive or urgency to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Here surely was a chance to go out and beat an ordinary team; but if margins decide games we were falling short.

At the break I was cheesed off, but what do I know about football? Within 10 minutes of the second half we were sitting on a 2-0 lead and, given the indifference Blackpool were displaying, the points seemed in the bag. First a seemingly innocuous cross from the right saw Burton jump with their centre-back and deliver a delightful looping header into the net. I honestly didn’t think he had it in him. Then space on the right side saw the ball break to Shelvey just inside the box and he finished well this time. OK, the performance was subdued but goals win games and that should have been it.

After the goals flurry the game went on much as before. Blackpool made a couple of changes to no obvious effect, while Charlton were understandably playing with greater relaxation. That then extended to a woefully underhit cross-field pass by Zhi which was intercepted by their guy, who took it into the box and was tripped, by Hudson I think. DJ Campbell, who until that point had given the sort of performance that you expect from someone plucked from obscurity after impressing on the TV in a cup game only to fail to cut the mustard at the top level, stepped up to score.

At that point Parkinson made a mystifying change. He took off Burton for Tuna. We all hope that Tuna is one for the future and blooding him in appropriate circumstances would be something widely applauded. Bringing him on to play as a lone striker in a game that was far from over, one that would mean relegation if we did not win, did not amount to ‘appropriate’; maybe Burton was tiring, but he had performed the lone striker role quite well and scored a good goal. It didn’t seem to matter as the game meandered towards its finish with no further incidents (although Holland replaced Youga at left-back, presumably because of injury). But then Blackpool made a change which sent some shivers up the spine. There was just something about the way Lee Hughes came on. I don’t know what he’s doing there, or the background, but he seemed to have a chip on his shoulder from the off.

It was into stoppage time before the ball found Hughes on the left side just inside the box. There was no doubting the quality of the finish as he curled one into the top corner. We all knew what that meant (I had no idea how other results were going). Perhaps most tellingly the strike meant that for all the improvement in performances of late we have won just one game in 11. A winning mentality was sadly absent today. We now have some months to work out how to get it back for next season.

Player Ratings:

Elliot: 7/10. Had very little to do and no chance with either goal.

Butterfield: 6/10. Fair enough, but both Blackpool’s goals came from his side of the pitch (although the first was down to Zhi’s pass) and he offered little going forward.

Youga: 8/10. Good game. Got forward well – including going well beyond Bailey on some occasions. I assume it was an injury which saw him go off.

Hudson: 8/10. Fine display. Blackpool just didn’t look like scoring – until Hughes came on.

Ward: 8/10. Same as Hudson.

Sam: 6/10. Frustrating. He should be winning us games like this and, although he created more in the second half, he just didn’t. There was a good deal of shoulder-shrugging in evidence.

Racon: 6/10. More subdued than of late, reflecting the overall mood of the team today. Not a bad game but not great.

Zhi: 5/10. His pass changed the game. Everyone makes mistakes but it was a bad one. Otherwise he failed to impose himself on the game.

Shelvey: 7/10. Would have been a higher mark but for the shooting in the first half. He made most of the chances for himself and was a threat all afternoon, scoring one. Just adjust the sights a little.

Bailey: 7/10. Gets a decent mark as much for some defensive work as what he did going forward. Found himself in good positions out wide but it’s still not his natural position and he doesn’t have the pace or trickery to operate as an outright winger.

Burton: 8/10. I thought he had a decent game and added a goal. We might as well get used to him because I’m assuming he’ll be around next season.

Subs:

Tuna: 6/10. Some good movement, which wasn’t always spotted by others, but this didn’t seem to be the time of the game to bring him on.

Holland: 7/10. Added a left-back berth to his positions this season. Did what we expect.

6 comments:

Daggs said...

Burton appeared to have cramp!
We appear to have been relegated!!

Lungrot said...

What this draw also means is that Parkinson has 3 wins from 25 league matches in charge. That's a win ratio of 12% which is worse than any other manager in Charlton's history (including Les Reed). It'll be interesting to see if the board decide to keep him on.

sm said...

The game exemplified perfectly while Parkinson should go.

Tactical ineptness - Blackpool were taken apart in midfield and we created plent of openings but couldn't convert them into shots on goal in the penalty area - perhaps this had something to do with only having one striker. Did the substitutions try and address the situation and do something different to respond to Blackpool being let into the game?

Defensive co-ordination. In first half Burton was left to mark their centrehalf at set pieces - very lucky not to concede a goal. Co-ordination between Butterfield and Hudson was awful.

Team attitude - sat back after going 2-0 up - stopped pressurising Blackpool up the field and turned sloppy. So surprise, surprise we lost the lead yet again - with yet another goal conceded in the closing minutes. Contrast with the attitude from Blackpool.

Treatment of young players/raising morale - aside from the impact of a stream of loan players, does Parkinson think it fair to give Tuna his debut as a striker leading the line (has he ever played such a role before?

I suspect that the problems have been there for a long time, and well before Parkinson took over - but are there any signs that they are being addressed and Parkinson is taking the team in a new direction? If the issue is cost - appoint a player manager - Matty Holland/Chrissy Powell?

Anonymous said...

I actually thought that bringing on Tuna was a good idea. It is desirable to give the the youth team players some experience in first team games that don't matter as much as they will next season. There are never going to be ideal circumstances, and I think this was going to be as good as it gets.

Felt the crowd were pretty supportive and it finally looks like the all the boo boys have given up coming now we are down.

Pembury Addick

lesberrysdodgybackpass said...

Saturday was a game that summed up our season. Some excellent midfield play, woeful finishing, lack of resilience, and 3 minutes of injury time, where dd that come from?

I had thought Parkinson had begun to sort out our shortcomings, there have been a number of good defensive displays i.e. against Birmingham, Reading,Coventry.

He is liked by the players who think he is the man for the job.

He clearly feels ours strikers were not up to it and expected goals from midfield. We should have had a hatful on Saturday.
But Saturdays performance and his substitutions have worried me.

With five in midfield where did they disappear to in the last half of the game. ZZ's pass that gave the goal away was woeful.

Why not put Spring on to shore up the midfield and take ZZ off.

Sam also looked tired towards the end and perhaps Wagstaff could have replaced him.

We should have shut them out and at least gone down with a bit more dignity.

It may be Parkinson's hands were tied with injury to Burton, and Spring not being match fit.

If he stays we have to have more resilience and a more disciplined midfield and defence.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Fair enough about Burton having cramp, but that does raise the issue of why neither Kandol nor Dickson were on the bench. I certainly don't think Tuna did badly, just that it was a tough introduction to play on his own up front in a game that wasn't won.

Lot's on Parkinson. Time for another post.