There is I suppose something odd about doing a post when in essence I’m doubtful that I have anything to say; belatedly expressing delight at the Blackpool result doesn’t seem to cut it. But popular consensus is that’s never stopped me before, so perhaps it’s best to scribble and see where the path leads.
If there is a theme it’s that through no fault of my own the season seems to be passing me by. I’ve managed just three of the 10 games so far, having had to forego home games against Hull (wedding in Lille) and Watford (work-related Amsterdam trip). Work doesn’t make midweek away trips especially easy and while Forest was in retrospect possible Ipswich was ruled out (my partner Suzanne chose that weekend for a London visit and when faced with the option of a day’s outing or a slow-cooked leg of lamb ... well, she is French). Any thoughts of Blackpool were ruled out by returning from Amsterdam with the office bug.
The way things are looking it’s not going to get any easier. I’m off to Lyon for the week ahead and, easyjet permitting, will fly back in time on Saturday morning to get across town for Barnsley. But the next Amsterdam trip could rule out the home game against Cardiff and to round things off Suzanne’s penchant for forward planning meant that we booked to go to Brussels for new year, only to discover when the fixture list came out that we head off the day Ipswich come to town. I’m still pondering whether it’s possible to watch the game and still make the last Eurostar, or just hoping that for some reason they bring forward the kick-off, but my prevarication is starting to cause concern in Lyon as the prices tick up with each passing day.
It all makes things rather disjointed, which is a fair assessment of the season to date (you see, there’s always a link). Three games witnessed to date and the season almost a quarter gone. I’ve seen a win, a draw and, according to the record books, one defeat (albeit one that is blessedly fading from my memory; give me another couple of weeks and it just won’t have happened). Add in the loss of Kermorgant and Wiggins, as well as Taylor, Jackson and Wagstaff, plus the new guys who’ve come in, and it’s given rise to an air of uncertainty that we learnt to live without last season. And it’s a fine line at the moment between uncertainty when we hover around the drop zone and opportunity/excitement when a win sees us looking upwards. Any team which includes three consecutive defeats in the first 10 games isn’t going to be among the early pace-setters and we’ve yet to manage back-to-back wins; it’s Barnsley’s role to get rid of that unwanted statistic.
The decision to drop Wright-Phillips for Blackpool will have been a tough one, but another Addick who attended the Ipswich match commented that he had a poor game there – and the result speaks for itself. Wilson seems to be taking his opportunity, however tough it is on Evina, and the little I’ve seen so far of Kerkar was positive. I can’t comment at all on Razak (or Dervite for that matter), but it’s an exciting move, especially if this works well for Fuller (and signing him was nothing less than a master-stroke). It remains to be seen whether Sir Chris will keep the formation for a home game, but you have to say why not? If there is a figure which stands out from the table it’s four goals in five home games.
I have rambled on before about the contrast with last season, but a fellow Addick pointed out that it’s actually been a number of seasons since we began a campaign without a clear idea of what would constitute success (and failure). At this stage we can only rank the priorities (starting with the blindingly obvious), especially as each time the media tags us as ‘struggling’ Charlton we respond with an away win. Progress is good enough for me as we have time to think about our own ‘next level’ (which is a spurious link to allow some criticism of the normally sensible Mick McCarthy who recently on Radio 5 trotted out the silly line that somehow it was Charlton fans demanding more that led to Curbs’ departure).
And it seems we are not alone in making progress. My adopted French team, Lyon Duchere, has made an explosive start to their CFA Groupe B campaign. With five wins and three draws from the first eight games – including a 4-3 victory over PSG B - they top their league. If my timings weren’t all so screwed up I would be there to witness their next game, at home to second-placed Moulins. But that would have meant no Barnsley game. Guess while I am in Lyon I’ll have to settle to Suzanne’s slow-cooked leg of lamb, washed down with whatever we pick up at the wine fair during the week. Like the league table, it ain’t all bad.