Sunday 25 May 2008

Saint Joseph Or Beaujolais?

So, was it a bottle of Saint Joseph to celebrate promotion with Lyon la Duchere, my adopted French team, or a bottle of Beaujolais to commiserate with them on their failure? I suppose the outcome was never really in doubt. I drank both, before the game started. And this proved to be the appropriate action – as to end any attempt at suspense Villefranche took the title but La Duch beat Marseilles reserves 1-0 to take second place and promotion with Villefranche from CFA2 Groupe C to CFA proper, the French equivalent of the fourth division. All’s well that ends well as they say – and with Olympique Lyonnais somehow robbing Paris Saint-Germain to win the French cup (and with it the league and cup double) the evening did indeed end well (and by the sound of it so has the weekend in general as we don’t have to contemplate going to Leeds).

First the facts. I managed to find out a little more by taking a stroll to check out the Stade Balmont (which in truth is a municipal stadium with one stand plus terracing opposite and nothing behind the goals) the day before the game and having a conversation outside the ground with someone I think turned out to be the manager of Lyon Duchere. It seemed that the team finishing top of the group was guaranteed promotion but that there were extra places from the eight regional CFA2 divisions for second-placed teams with the best record. It seemed that Lyon Duchere were confident of gaining promotion that way if they finished second – which meant it was in their own hands and that it was indeed a promotion play-off with Marseilles reserves.

Some 400 brave souls, including three wearing Charlton shirts (something that did require periodic explanation), shunned the town centre big screen to watch the cup final and to cheer on La Duch. Marseilles’ second-string were younger, fitter, stronger, and had in their ranks by far the best player on the pitch, an outstanding prospect called M’Bow (Pards please note, he plays in central defence and is tall, very mobile, and is going to be a star – provided his temperament doesn’t get the better of him, more of that later). However, La Duch had the heroes on the night.
The first half was a fairly even and open affair, but Lyon Duchere had made the breakthrough in the 14th minute, with Rachid Benayen dummying the Marseilles keeper and slotting the ball to his left. After that chances were few and far between, which seemed par for the course for Duchere through the season. After the break Marseilles took more of a grip on the game as Duchere not surprisingly tended to sit back and tried to see out the game and as fatigue played a part. And in the last 15 minutes it was the Duchere goalkeeper Daniel Jaccard (who apparently joined the club this season and who has been instrumental in their splendid defensive record) who stepped up. He pulled off one truly outstanding save, palming away a fierce drive headed for the top corner, and three or four pretty commendable ones as well.

Everyone was well aware of the consequences of a Marseilles equaliser and nerves were frayed as the minutes were counted down. Some controversial cries of ‘go back to your bouillabaisse’ were heard from the grandstand and as Lyon Duchere’s time-wasting tactics reached new heights there was the odd scuffle on the pitch. The referee seemed to add on at least five extra minutes. But finally it was over and Lyon Duchere had emerged triumphant. More contretemps followed after the final whistle, with M’Bow in particular not taking defeat well and having to be ushered off the pitch.

For the record Villefranche did what was necessary for them, securing a 1-0 away win at Gueugnon. It seems that the referee there disallowed a last-minute equaliser; if that had stood Lyon Duchere would have taken the title. I believe the final standings were as follows (if that sounds vague its because one of the Lyon Sunday papers has La Duche winning the league):

1. Villefranche P30 W16 D7 L7 F48 A35 D+13 Pts 85
2. Lyon Duchere P30 W16 D7 L7 F38 A24 D+14 Pts 85
3. Marseilles(B) P30 W15 D7 L8 F43 A27 D+17 Pts 82

And so it ends. Next season Lyon Duchere will have to step up a gear, but the season should be highly entertaining. There are four 18-team regional CFA divisions and I’m assuming La Duch will go into Groupe B. There will be the friendly fixtures against Villefranche (well, if they aren’t friendly yet I will do all in my power to make them so) and more important Duchere will come up against the reserves of Lyon. It promises to be something of a grudge match, given the disdain with which OL treats Duchere.

The Duchere area is in the north-west of Lyon, in hills overlooking the centre. It has been relatively depressed for decades (the keyword being relative: Lyon does not have the problems of Paris and is an affluent and extremely appealing city, being well-presented and the acknowledged food capital of France). But large housing developments are being demolished and fresh areas constructed with better planning and construction. The district has every chance of becoming a real growth area with a vibrant and diverse cultural mix. Looks like the same can be said of its football team.

I hope to provide regular updates on the progress of Lyon Duchere through the course of next season, attending matches when possible (now I have the scarf – they don’t sell the shirts yet). This does of course rely on my partner Suzanne not coming to her senses and disposing of her rather strange rosbif. But there are no signs of this being about to happen (that said we never do see them coming, do we? Better get her a decent birthday present just to be on the safe side).

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Jonah, Jonah Give Us A Song

Not long ago someone asked whether Lyon la Duchere was aware that it had acquired its very own Jonah in the form of my good self. I don’t think it was the vicar who sometimes comments on these pages; if it was there’s something spooky going on. I’m sorry Lyon, it seems that I am indeed that Jonah.

The previous post was about the CFA 2 Groupe C title going to the wire. With two games to go Lyon la Duchere, my adopted French team, topped the division by one point but with Marseille’s reserves just one behind – ahead of their last-day clash – and with Villefranche-sur-Saone having come from nowhere to be just three points back from La Duch – with these two to play each other last weekend. And with four points for a win (two for a draw, one for a defeat – but seemingly also the possibility of forfeiting points for disciplinary reasons) it was still anyone’s title to win.

It seems my lot had something of an off day. Villefranche 4 Lyon la Duchere 0. Meanwhile Marseille (B) rather surprisingly could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to fourth-placed Echirolles. The result is all three clubs tied on 81 points and with identical records (except for goal difference) with one game to go. However, for some reason unknown to me the league table as published on the web by France Football shows Marseille now topping the table followed by Villefranche, even though Duchere have a better goal difference than Villefranche at least. Maybe the placings are decided on results between the two clubs.

1. Marseilles(B) P29 W15 D7 L7 F43 A26 D+17 Pts 81
2. Villefranche P29 W15 D7 L7 F47 A35 D+12 Pts 81
3. Lyon Duchere P29 W15 D7 L7 F37 A24 D+13 Pts 81

This means of course that Lyon la Duchere need to beat Marseilles in their final game of the season if they are to take the title. It must be a little unsettling for them to know that I will indeed be there to witness the season’s denouement. The problem now is that even victory may not be enough – if Villefranche win their last game, away to the reserves of Gueugnon (who moved up to fourth over the weekend). Worse still, on Saturday night when the final whistle blows we might not know whether La Duch have indeed emerged triumphant. I don’t know what the jungle telegraph is like at this level. Hopefully someone in the crowd will have a relative or friend at the Gueugnon-Villefranche game and can let us know.

So it seems we are relying on a favour from Gueugnon. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never been there. Apparently it is a small town in the Saone-et-Loire department with a population of around 8,000, twinned with Otterberg in Germany(??), and famous for its steelworks. The club’s nickname is ‘forgerons’, which rather unimaginatively means blacksmiths. I know we need their help, but this all sounds rather like the glaziers from some armpit part of London.

I have been to Villefranche-sur-Saone (not to be confused with Villefranche-sur-Mer, which is on the Rivierra). Last Easter we decided my knowledge of the region needed to be improved with a round trip from Lyon up through the Beaujolais region to the Bourgogne and back. Very cultural it was too. My partner Suzanne enjoys driving, which is just as well as having passed my test some 20 years ago I haven’t been behind the wheel since (and have never owned a car). The navigational skills required for the trip were not that demanding, so I had to while away my time by sampling the local produce, which is red and comes in a bottle. Villefranche is a delightful town regarded as the economic centre of the Beaujolais. Personally I prefer the darker hues of the Bourgogne, but if your only acquaintance with the former is the nouveaux (which remarkably for the French was a marketing masterpiece) you are missing out. Chenas, Brouilly, Fleurie, Morgon etc all offer subtle delights.

Consequently I find it hard to think ill of Villefranche, even if they steal the title (and possibly promotion) from La Duch. This is as it should be. A noble contest between two champions of the area which both offer delights to the visitor. May the best team win – if it’s Villefranche it’ll be a Beaujolais to offer up our congratulations; if it’s La Duchere then a very good bottle of St Joseph just might see the light of day.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Hold On ASD, I'm Coming

Now it gets serious. We may have declined the option of promotion this time around, Palace may have fallen by the wayside, but the season isn’t over yet. This isn’t due to the prospect of having to watch the unbearable heaviness of being Jimmy-Floyd on Saturday, or the clash of the bank balances that is Rocky XXX next Wednesday (as the US and Russia do battle by proxy). Rather it is as it goes to the wire for Lyon la Duchere. Glory awaits, lads. Just try not to be too confused by the strange behaviour of the rosbif in the corner. He is only seeking a little reflected glory.

There are two rounds of matches left, this Saturday and next weekend (schedules are not being adjusted for Sky but might be depending on when the crowd can turn up). And its far from a done deal that La Duch will win the title – or indeed secure promotion from CFA 2 Groupe C (to the giddy heights of CFA proper, the regional equivalent of the fourth division). I would have a better idea of the chances if it were possible to work out from the league table how the points system works. I’m sorry to say that repeated efforts, including trying a listed number for the club, have so far failed to produce any definitive information. And for those of you who may think it must be easy to work out, please explain to me how the team currently last in the 16-team division, Jura Dolois, can have played 28, won 4, drawn 5 and lost 19, with a goal difference of -33, and still have secured 45 points? Any advice gratefully received.

(I think I’ve worked it out. Seems the bottom club had 43 points after 26 games and lost the last two, so you must get a point for losing - or at least for turning up. It then seems to work if you get four points for a win and two for a draw.)

Anyway, last weekend Lyon Duchere secured the expected victory at home against said Jura Dolois, winning 4-0 (a much-needed boost to the goals scored column, which still only reads 37 scored in 28 games). However, Marseilles(B) didn’t slip up away at mid-table Corte, securing a 2-1 victory (of course your mind strays to what might have happened if not for the ref awarding a last-minute penalty or some other travesty of justice). The results leave La Duchere top of the table with 80 points but Marseilles’ reserves just one behind on 79. And somehow third-placed Villefranche-sur-Saone have come very much into the reckoning. Two consecutive wins (most recently 2-0 away at fourth-placed Echirolles) and 8 points have moved them up to 77 points in what is now a three-horse race.

On Saturday Lyon la Duchere have an away game – at Villefranche-sur-Saone. This is before the final match at home to Marseilles. Like a true Charlton proxy they are going to have to do it the hard way. Marseilles are at home to Echirolles in their penultimate fixture. No doubt gutted at having blown it against Villefranche and having since been on the sauce they aren’t likely to put up a strong showing. We have to assume a victory for Marseilles, which would take them on to 83 points (if my points calculations are correct). A draw for Lyon Duchere would put them on 82 points and ensure they are champions if they win the showdown on the final day. Of course a victory on Saturday means a draw against Marseilles would be enough, even if Villefranche win their last game (away to fifth-placed Gueugnon, who will want to end the season in style in front of their own supporters).

If Lyon lose to Villefranche both teams, given the strange points system, would be on 81 points. Would then goal difference or goals scored count? This is starting to get silly, I doubt they know themselves. Looking at the league table it would appear that goal difference is the deciding factor. In that case Lyon would remain above Villefranche, who can only take the title if they win their final two games (to go to 85 points), Marseilles do not win on Saturday, and Lyon and Marseilles draw their final game. So for Lyon there would seem to be no practical difference between a draw and a defeat on Saturday – in either event they would be champions with a last-day win.

Again, hold on guys, Ryanair permitting I’m on my way. And as has been pointed out, Lyon Duchere now have their very own Jonnah.

Here’s how it stands now with two games to go. Remember, win=4 points, draw=2 points, loss=1 point; goal difference probably counts over goals scored:

1. Lyon Duchere P28 W15 D7 L6 F37 A20 D+17 80
2. Marseilles(B) P28 W15 D6 L7 F42 A25 D+17 79
3. Villefranche P28 W14 D7 L7 F43 A35 D+8 77

For anyone who doubts the natural association between Charlton and Lyon Duchere just consider the following, taken/paraphrased from an article (in French) sent to me.

“Far from the lights of the OL (Olympique Lyonnais, the champions of France and the city’s other football team), Duchère was abruptly carved in the concrete. It was the collective dream of 5,000 pied-noir (French-Algerians given their marching orders at the end of the war for independence). The blood and gold colours of the shirt reflect the Spanish roots of many of the repatriates. The population (of the area of Lyon) changed thereafter with successive waves of immigration. The club reflected the energy of the district, moving up the football league until in 1992 it stood on the brink of promotion to National (France’s third division). The promotion is then denied the club, on the grounds of ‘economic insufficiencies’. With the chance to turn professional denied them, the club implodes, leading to bankruptcy and liquidation in 1996.

At the same time the Duchère area became in the eyes of the Lyoneses a disadvantaged city, a "cut-gorge", soured by unemployment. The club is reformed and begins the task of rebuilding in the shadow of OL (with OL regarding Lyon Duchere with a mixture of indifference and contempt). There are moments of success, with Eric Abidal moving from La Duchere to greater things, and victories in the French cup.

The objective that ASD (Duchere) has is to reconquer the hearts of its supporters and the people of the district, to set up a club of the supporters. According to the current owner, “more than to structure of the supporteurs, I would like to create footbridges between the club and the young people of the district. To incite them to come to take their licence here, rather than in the neighbouring communes. But also because a football club has a social mission, it makes it possible to constitute a network: there is always somebody in the association which knows an employer, who can indicate a housing… I hope that today, whereas the restoration of the district is finally launched, the image of Duchère will change.”

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Elementary My Dear, Dear Watson

So today our thoughts go out to supporters of a certain team to the south of us. I will think about them all day. Possibly longer. Actually a friend who is involved with a Palace fan (in the nicest possible way, if that’s possible) came around last night. I guess we felt it was time to watch the DVD of what is now the season before last (it was bought a while ago but somehow I never had the inclination to unwrap it), possibly along with the wine as an anesthetic (or just distraction) should the evening not go well. As it turned out it was all rather elementary Watson. I should just add that in the unlikely event of said Palace fan ever reading this, if you believe for a nanosecond that the words of comfort and consolation offered up later on by the aforementioned friend carried an iota of real conviction you are a true and worthy follower of Simes.

I have a number of friends based in Bristol (they are the sort of fools who use a warped sense of priorities to waffle on about ‘quality of life’ as if that were possible so far from the smoke). I have forwarded our thanks, along with instructions on how the yokels should behave when they have their day in the big city. Actually they seem to carry a relatively high percentage of morons among their ranks, so maybe the instructions will help generally. Bristol, Hull or Watford? Who gives a monkeys?

A combination of evangelical wedding in Lille, belated birthday ice cream in Rome (for my partner Suzanne, not me), plus work-related trip to Amsterdam (either side of the Coventry game) have put back any thoughts of recent posts (for anyone out there I will do an update on Lyon la Duchere, who stand on the brink of glory with two games to go). All sounds attractive except when you have to contemplate the hours spent at airports, the 3am start to get a flight, and the quality of both the coffee going out and the gin and tonic coming back offered by Ryanair and Easyjet.

So I hope to be among the last to offer player ratings for the season. Just please don’t think that time and space will have encouraged any sense of perspective or reason. And not surprisingly any review of last season throws up more questions than answers.

Weaver: 7/10. 44 league appearances with important saves should merit a higher score and at least a top three finish for player of the season. But there’s something missing. We know he doesn’t command his area and defence; perhaps more important, unlike Deano and Sasha he’s not inspirational. It’s unlikely he’ll change and it’s highly probable he’ll be first choice for next season.

Moutaouakil: 6/10. Strange that at the end of the season he’s the only recognised right-back actually on the books, aside from on-loan Sankofa and the kids. Started so well before injury, was a key element of a purple patch for the team, but mistakes cost us against Watford and Scunthorpe and that was it for the season. Ended up making only seven league starts (19 for Mills and 15 for Halford). Could be a key player next season and in my view whether he and Youga or Halford and Thatcher are first choice will set the tone for how we play. I so hope it’s the former combination.

Halford: 8/10. Sticky start but ended up as a reliable and effective player who gave his all and chipped in with a couple of goals. I’m assuming that as Cook and Lita were off as soon as it was all over but Halford was kept on Pardew wants to sign him. If Sankofa is deemed surplus to requirements we may need at least cover (although Solly can’t be far off), but it all depends on whether Pardew feels he can rely on Yassin. Mills showed us both sides of the coin while he was with us; it all ended so badly with his behaviour against Hull, which was plain daft unless he was looking for an early Xmas.

Thatcher: 5/10. Started and ended the season as first choice, but managed only 11 starts. Adequate but no more. With Youga and Basey re-signing and Long coming through I don’t see the point other than the fact he has a contract.
Youga: 6/10. Was outstanding when he first returned in January but seemed to lose the plot (and interest) and was dropped after 10 starts. I thought he was on his way an am delighted to see he has signed a new contract. Deserves an 8 for some performances and a 4 for others. More application and consistency next season and, along with Yassin, he could be instrumental in setting the pulse of the team.
Basey: 7/10. Did nothing wrong and even appeared on left-side midfield at the end of the season.
Powell: 10/10. What else?

Central Defence:
McCarthy: 7/10. Only denied an 8 by his poor start when he looked very short of match practise. Looks like he will always be prone to the odd lapse in concentration and does lack pace. But provided the leadership so badly needed and has to be a cornerstone of the team next season.
Bougherra: 8/10. Formed with McCarthy the most effective partnership we found and, unless we sell him, has to be first-choice for next season.
Fortune: 6/10. Played about the same number of games as McCarthy and Bougherra but mostly alongside Sodje. Didn’t nail down the position but can still play a role if he has a partner that suits him.
Sodje: 7/10. Did all we could reasonably ask of him, but I’m assuming he’s a Reading player next season.

Wide Midfield:
Thomas: 4/10. Should have been a shoo-in all season and a key player. Instead it was 19 starts, no goals and cameos. Get your mind right and play next season or leave (although to go where exactly?).
Ambrose: 5/10. Another who should have been much more instrumental at this level, although the questions seem to be more about confidence than attitude. The fact he ended up playing out wide, central midfield and ‘in the hole’ illustrates the problem. He didn’t nail down any position, but did contribute seven league goals. Hope he comes back raring after the operation.
Sam: 7/10. Started well before the enforced post-Hull break but flitted in and out thereafter. Should still be improving and hope for more next season.
Reid: 8/10. Let’s include him as a wide midfielder. Could get a 9. We missed him more than I expected – although having worked out a good way to play without him we proceeded to ditch that style with the loan signings.

Central Midfield:
Holland: 8/10. Missed effectively the first half of the season but was an automatic choice once back. Not surprisingly doesn’t look capable of getting forward and back as quickly as he used to, which limits his goalscoring potential. But gives what it says on the can, week in, week out.
Semedo: 8/10. Perhaps surprisingly high score but I thought he was excellent in the first third of the season, when he played the defensive role. But why on earth was he later expected to play alongside Holland? It was a sterile combination born out of desperation as ZZ was knackered, Racon was out on loan and others (Sinclair x 2 etc) weren’t considered good enough.
Zheng: 7/10. Made 38 starts and contributed 7 goals. Looked most effective when the team was in its all-too-brief mobile phase as he could pass and move. He’s not a real playmaker and when all around him is static he looks only half the player. If we want the best out of him we have to play to his strengths.

Varney: 5/10. For effort and commitment he deserves full marks. But he didn’t produce the goals we needed. Eight from 23 starts and 16 sub appearances, albeit sometimes playing out wide, is not enough. He doesn’t look like a goal poacher (you need to be able to shoot with both feet). It’s a harsh assessment for a genuine player who I trust will enjoy a better second season. But if it’s a Gray/Varney combination a similar return to last season – 33 (+25 sub) and 10 goals (boosted by two in the last game) just won’t do. As with other positions and combinations it depends on how we line up as a team. Strangely I thought it looked good with Varney and McLeod and plenty of pace.
Iwelumo: 7/10. Takes some undeserved flack; its not his fault that when he plays everyone else seems to think its OK to hoof hopeless balls in his direction. 10 goals in 32 starts would have been good enough if he had a 20+ striker alongside him (if Lita had arrived sooner perhaps).
Gray: 5/10. Could have been a key signing in January; I thought he might be the new Melrose but it just didn’t happen as the early goal he needed didn’t come. Hopefully he will be key next season.
Todorov: 8/10. Losing him was a pivotal moment of the season. I know he only made three league starts but he looked a class apart with his ability to link play and create space.
Dickson: No rating but another very big might have been.
McLeod: 5/10. Didn’t take the opportunities to make his mark and might have been off. Still developing but jury has to be out.

Pardew: 5/10. Let’s forget all the nonsense about replacing him. He is the best man available for the job and hopefully will have learnt from the mistakes made last season, mistakes which he has acknowledged. I hope that the criticism he has taken doesn’t make him defensive (as Von Clausewitz stressed there’s a big difference between strength of character and stubbornness). In my opinion in preparation for next season the task is to decide on the real strengths of the squad (obviously with some to go and some to come in) and what style of play will best suit the key elements (of course with the ability to change tactics). Last season we didn’t manage a settled defence (but ended with at least Weaver, McCarthy and Bougherra as clearly first choices), couldn’t find the right combination of disparate elements in midfield, and did not unearth a reliable and lasting partnership up front (albeit with injuries a major factor).

Fans: 5/10. Collectively we deserve a rating no higher than that for the manager. The booing was often unforgivable and puerile (although clearly not a phenomenon confined to Charlton, all of which makes me sound like the grumpy old fart from a bygone age that I clearly am), the singing unimaginative (when was the last time none of the players in the team actually had a song?), and the positive contribution almost non-existent.

For the manager, the team and the fans its a case of all must do better next season. Please.

Sunday 4 May 2008

Chris, You Made My Day

To anyone out there looking for a perceptive analysis of the first half of today’s game could I perhaps recommend any number of excellent Charlton blogs. Some of us who nurtured perhaps unrealistic hopes of making the kick-off saw them founder on the rock that is network south-east on a Sunday. Flying in from The Eternal City to meet The Impermeably Inept. ‘No mate, no direct trains from Gatwick to London Bridge. Have to wait, change at East Croydon or Tulse Hill, then find something to do while the connecting train crawls its way towards its destination’. So, made it during half-time. And in its perverse way, and for one obvious but utterly delightful moment, it was worth it.

Let’s get the game over with first. Apparently in the first half we scored what could have been goal of the season (although how anything to be voted above Luke Varney’s two strikes and Svetoslav Todorov’s effort is a mystery), plus another, and they scored. We were apparently quite good but shrank a little when they pulled one back. They were rubbish. And from what I saw they got worse. Coventry really could claim to be the worst side to visit The Valley this season. They had a lot to play for but not long into the second half were reduced to listening to the clues from their supporters and hoping for salvation from elsewhere. At least they went home happy (although I hope the Coventry moron who kicked in the headlight of a mate’s car on the way back from our 3-2 cup win some years back slipped on a dog turd on the way to the station).

Not long into the second half we worked a good position on the right, only for the cross to look like easy meat for Kasper Schmeichel. However, he contrived to knock it up in the air and it dropped to Grant Basey. From a very inviting position he managed to pull the shot wide before an inrushing defender managed to thump it into the net. After that Coventry created half-chances but it was more about how many times we could shoot just wide of Schmeichel’s left-hand post. And Basey was to find himself in a similarly great position only to pull the shot and see it cannon off a defender almost into the net. Does he practise scoring that way?

The game was really only notable for two moments (leaving aside home league debuts for Jonjo Shelvey and Scott Wagstaff). First, the ball was cleared by the Coventry defence only for Matt Holland to run onto the loose ball. It was bouncing awkwardly at a difficult height, but he met it absolutely perfectly only for the fantastic shot to crash against the bar. It got the fans out of their seats for an extended appreciation of the captain’s efforts this season.

If that was a good moment what followed was pure theatre. We all know that Sir Chris would come on for his farewell, his 270th game in a Charlton shirt. It wasn’t immediately obvious why he moved into central midfield. At first it seemed perhaps he was so moved by the reception he was given that he couldn’t be risked anywhere else. But truth was he was there so that he could run onto a cross and smash the ball into the net, sparking thunderous celebrations. It was a great moment, a tremendous way to say goodbye to a true gent. Not a dry eye in the house.

What else is worth adding before I return to packing to fly off at sparrow’s far to Amsterdam tomorrow morning? Rome was fabulous (and sorry I managed to get into the ground with a 1litre bottle of Ramazzotti in my bag – I just didn’t think). Suzanne really enjoyed her ice cream. Shelvey showed enough to suggest he can play a part next season, although he’s one for the future and its far too soon to think of him as a starting midfielder. Luke Varney played well but missed chances and was moved out right when Chris Iwelumo came on. I don’t know about anyone else but I want our main goalscorer to make the central position his own. Basey and Powell getting on the scoresheet meant that no fewer than 19 players scored for us this season, not including two own goals. That only one (just) made it to double figures tells its own story.

Perhaps most important was that at the end of the game what we can perhaps call a lap of mutual appreciation by the players was conducted with dignity and a quite moving demonstration of support for the team from the fans. A large percentage of the crowd stayed behind for it, no doubt influenced by the desire to cheer Powell around the pitch and, for one last time, out of the tunnel. But the players and staff were applauded despite the disappointment of the season. Alan Pardew opted not to join the players and I think misjudged the moment here. No, there’s nothing to celebrate when it comes to the season now ended. It was one of failure. That was the season that was; it’s over, let it go. But there’s still plenty to appreciate in being a Charlton fan. Sir Chris reminded us of that today.