OK, we all know we've been scrabbling around for anything to comment on during the past week or so (aside from the welcome rumours of signings/departures). When you look for the latest BBC headline on Charlton and it says, dated 09/07, Youga Joins Scunthorpe, now replaced by the equally earth-moving news that Grant Basey has gone on loan to Brentford, you know you're not really missing anything.
The Welling/Tooting friendlies were akin to throwing the proverbial bone to a pack of hungry hounds. Did we overlook the potential significance of the timing of certain substitutions? Everything else must have been done many times over. Since then it's felt like the phoney war period (not that I have any idea what this was like): on paper hostilities have commenced but we're all sitting around waiting for the war proper to kick off.
So we have good reasons for a lull. But what is the club's excuse? I could just about live with the second Nicky Weaver interview, but then along comes a piece focused on Paddy McCarthy. "I think the manager has been clever in the way he has dealt with relegation and the signings that he has made,” said the former Foxes skipper. So let's get this straight, Paddy. The guy signs you and is maybe set to make you captain, it's not likely that you're going to come out with anything along the lines of 'well, the new guys brought in aren't really up to scratch; I think the gaffer's losing it'. Pity really, would have made me laugh.
So there you have it. The best I can come up with is some mild criticism of an official website posting. Something better bloody happen soon.
If there is one thing to say it's that even now whenever I look at the Championship teams line-up my immediate reaction is that if we can't finish above most of these tiddlers we don't deserve to get promoted (it's not tantamount to the daft idea that we somehow 'belong' in the Premiership; maybe it's not wanting to face up to the prospect that if we don't go straight back up we really will be back to where we have spent most of my life - mucking around in the second flight). It's exactly the sort of thinking that most Premiership team supporters had about us for the past seven years - and is exactly the reason why we outperformed so many of them for so long. I'm glad that all the indications are that neither Pards nor the players are thinking this way.
To my mind Curbs, for a long period of time, was a true master in exploiting the underperformance of teams around us: Newcastle, Aston Villa, Mans City, Middlesbro, Spurs - they all blew it, for many seasons. He made better use of much more limited resources than they did, by being better than them and their managers - perhaps because bettering them was a motivation. My feeling was that in the last couple of years he stopped progressing as a coach. It wasn't that he couldn't take the club to that 'next level' (I don't know what that means for us - although I think the rot set in when we had insufficient demand for season tickets to justify further expansion of the stadium); it was more that continually demonstrating that he could do it was not enough (especially when the England job was held out).
What I like about Pardew is not so much the notion that everything he does is, or is going to be, perfect. It's more that we want to get promoted back to the Premiership. Could we have a better manager to do so? I can't think of one. Could we have a better team to achieve the task? Well, of course we bloody could, but within the parameters set by our financial situation it is shaping up in a way that we would expect us to at least be fiercely competitive in this league (and with the emphasis on young players there is the possibility that the squad will develop together). The three teams at the end of next season that go up to the premiership won't be perfect (and the managers of the three teams going down won't necessarily be bad). They will just have been good enough.