Friday 20 July 2012

Making The Grade

In years to come there will be a trivia question cropping up in what by then passes as a sports or social anthropology quiz show: ‘what was the difference between Salim Kerkar and a number of other footballers (possibly including Sam Baldock)?’ The answer is of course that Kerkar (along with Jordan Cook and Lawrie Wilson) was(is) an intelligent, well-adjusted, ambitious but aware young man who showed by his actions that he knew where true happiness and glory resided; the others revealed themselves to be short-sighted, money-grabbing, weak, easily-led, blinkered individuals who through their stupidity ended up depressed, alone, and full of bitterness and regret.

How do we know this? By all accounts (well, reading between the lines of the Sky Sports report) Kerkar when he got the call dropped everything and made his way to Spain as quickly as possible to try to grab the opportunity of getting a deal with the Addicks. After what appears to have been a late cameo in the victory over Sporting Clube de Portugal, even if he doesn’t end up signing he can proudly say that he wore the shirt. Hopefully he will do enough and prove to be another star. By contrast, it appears that some others have prevaricated when approached, even ended up choosing another club. I know it’s hard to believe, even in this day and age, but it seems to be true, with Sir Chris expressing some frustration in the transfer market to date.

We have to make allowances, sometimes. Some when young are misled, end up in dark places, and either see the light (like said Sir Chris, who had an utterly inappropriate start to his career) or are seduced by false promises and choose the wrong path (Pitcher). We appreciate that footballers have responsibilities and are forced to make moves that would in normal circumstances be hard to fathom (Racon). Some even sacrifice their own happiness for the good of the club (Bent). But the only possible explanation for a footballer to turn us down in favour of another is that their character flaws mean they are not suitable to succeed with us in any event.

There’s still time for Baldock (and others). Take control of your lives, call your agent, make it entirely clear that he/she will have to live with the cut whatever size it is, and hotfoot it down to The Valley. We’ll then decide if you are suitable. You know it makes sense.

As usual I’ve no insights into what might be going on behind the scenes, on the transfer front or regarding boardroom changes. It’s reassuring that all the indications are that Wilson’s arrival doesn’t seem to herald Solly’s departure; as Powell indicated recently we got lucky last season with no back-up for his position and someone who can operate at right-back and further forward looks at the least like good competition for places. I hope it ensures pressure on Green and Wagstaff to improve areas of their game. At the moment, if you could combine the merits of both (Wagstaff’s goals and effort, Green’s crossing) we’d have a shoo-in for the position. I just hope that if Wilson has to wait for a chance he, like those last season (not least Cort) is ready and grabs it. No doubt he’ll be hoping he doesn’t have to wait as long as Evina.

It seems reasonably clear from the gossip and from Kerkar’s possible arrival that we are looking to strengthen, if possible, the central spine with another centre-half, central midfielder, and forward. In each position we look well enough positioned to be competitive, and those who would drop down a peg with new signings would have a right to be miffed; just make sure that if it happens it makes them more determined. Morrison remains the go-to central defender, with either Taylor or Cort and Mambo in the wings. Same for me in midfield with Hollands (although his knock seems to be limiting his match practise), with Stephens the natural partner but Pritchard, Hughes and the developing Bover available (I’ve been reminded that Russell is currently not with us).

Up front Kermorgant’s name is pencilled in (can we please be ready with a good song for him for the visit of Leicester?) and the key decision is Wright-Phillips. His goals were massive in the first half of last season but there’s no doubt his goal drought affected the latter half. Haynes and Cook seem to be making cases for inclusion, or at least being the ready back-ups (or indeed the third option if the 4-3-3 experiment becomes a regular ploy), unless and until Baldock arrives, with presumably N’Guessan still a possibility. Unless I’m wrong (it happens), Clarke and Hayes are still on the books, although both would seem to have to do something special to come back into the reckoning.

All will take its course. Those who sign/play are automatically elevated to the Kerkar standing. What remains for me and some fellow Addicks is to formally sign off on last season with a suitable combination of wine and curry tomorrow afternoon. Seems the sun might even shine for it (better hurry up if the Heath is to dry out in time). I just hope we will be doing the same, in the same spirits, in a year’s time. May it come to pass. My only immediate concern is that the wine may not be up to recent standards. I was in Paris recently (to meet up with my partner Suzanne for a concert by The Boss) and decided to give Bourgogne one last chance. Splashed out EUR29 on a bottle of Beaune Clos de la Mousse premier cru 2008 and gave it every chance. Time to breathe, decanting with the aerator. Like Bruce, outstanding. Tonight the other bottle I brought back will get similar treatment. A 2007 Cornas. Tomorrow, or the day after, it may be back to reality. Like footballers, some wines make the grade and some just don't.

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