With the inconvenient interruptions of holidays (which ruled out Bournemouth and Orient), fellow Addicks’ birthday parties (Exeter), a natural aversion to all things north (Huddersfield), and another Amsterdam jolly meaning I’ve managed just one game in anger to date this season (Oldham), and with the Dagenham & Redbridge encounter having had all the feel of a pre-season friendly, I can’t help feeling that for me the season really starts tomorrow. I’m helpfully reminded by the club site that despite one point in three we are still only two points off second spot in the league, but a record of 2-1-2 and a goal difference of zero what was a splendid start has been well and truly balanced. Three home games out of four coming up in the rest of this month could well go some way to setting the real tone for the season, even if the assumption (hope?) is that as the squad gels we will get steadily better.
There do seem to be a few selection issues for Parkinson for tomorrow’s game. Fry or Jackson at left-back? Is Dailly fit? Is Fortune going to get the nod over Llera to partner Doherty if not? Which two for central midfield out of McCormack, Semedo and Racon? Martin or Wagstaff wide right? Sodje or Abbott to partner Benson up front? I’ve got my personal preferences on each count, but I just haven’t seen enough games, let alone how things are shaping up in training, to take issue with any of the decisions. In at least the three central areas of the pitch it has to be about partnerships and which combination works best. None of the possible combinations are established and to some extent that means neither is the style of play.
With Reid, Martin and Wagstaff available, you can make a case for saying that the real strength is out wide, with an emphasis on service to the target man and Benson the intended main goalscorer. That in turn might imply keeping central midfield as secure as possible, with McCormack and Semedo, as seems to be Parkinson’s recent preference, at least away from home (and after Racon had a poor game against Oldham). But to get the best out of wingers they usually need to be fed the ball early and the main impression I came away with from the Dagenham exercise (in addition to a favourable first outing for Benson) was good interplay between Racon and Martin, especially after Therry was lifted by his goal. That wasn’t enough for him to get the nod for Exeter, but again three home games coming up might shift the balance.
Some Addicks may not be fully aware of the strong fraternal bond that exists between Charlton and Notts County. The Charlton-County alliance was forged in opposition to a Brighton-Wrexham ‘axis of evil’ in days of yore at university. The drive down from Sheffield to Meadow Lane to watch The ‘Pies was a regular excuse to drop into the County supporter friend’s aunt’s place pre-match for cod and chips. If proof of the goodwill between the two clubs was needed it was provided in buckets by a New Year’s Day drive with said friend from London to Nottingham to watch Charlton and County play out a 0-0 draw on a quagmire of a pitch; I don’t think the ball moved more than 10 yards either side of the centre spot all afternoon. Germany v Austria eat your heart out.
The four teams in question have tended to go their separate ways in subsequent years, but life goes in cycles and three of them are back in the same league. We are currently separated from County in the league by just a single goal and the bond means that I will be satisfied with a victory by only one or two (any attempt to explain away a defeat on the grounds of brotherhood will of course be total cobblers).
One thing about having a partner in Lyon and a monthly work-related trip to Amsterdam is that you are constantly trying to book flights to satisfy competing demands (my carbon footprint isn’t exactly commendable, although I’ve never owned a car). Relaxed weekends in Lyon are a delight. Food market, pastis then back for an afternoon of wine and cigars while something is being concocted in the kitchen (no, I’m not that much of a misogynist, I’ll do the same in London) have a certain appeal, especially if rounded off by a Lyon Duchere home game. But making sure they don’t get in the way of the truly important things in life is complicated. A week in October is planned, but there’s Amsterdam early in the month and we’ve got just one home game (before the last day) bang slap in the middle. I’ve a feeling that there’ll be increased work demands coming up that will make it impossible for me to make it to France around the 16th of the month – and if Suzanne believes that she’s a good deal less smart than I believe.
Lyon Duchere, my adopted French team, don’t have a home game on either 16 or 23 October, so I can’t see a viable way to combine a trip with increasing my tally of their games. Well, that said they are away at Besancon on the later date. A quick check indicates that it’s somewhere to the east of Dijon, which if not around the corner from Lyon has to be doable. I’ve done some daft away trips in my time (as above, plus Lyon Duchere at somewhere I can’t remember) but this one might need some selling to the power that is, especially as she does the driving. Seems Besancon is a ‘City of Art and History’ and has been on the Unesco World Heritage list since 2008, with Wikipedia describing it as having one of the most beautiful historic city centres in France. That might help in promoting the trip, but then skipping the town centre for a France CFA Groupe B football match might be a step too far – unless Suzanne is a good deal less smart than I believe.
A week ago I was going to say it looks like business as usual for Duchere this season. The first four games of the season produced two wins and two defeats, with three goals scored and two conceded. But it seems last Saturday they went and trounced Chasselay 4-1 at home. I don’t feel in a strong position to comment on Chasselay’s defence, but it must be truly pants. The result has lifted La Duch to fourth in the 17-member league, with 15 points from five games (you get a point for turning up). In fact they’re only two points off top spot. Seems both of my teams have a target in mind for Saturday.