Thursday 21 May 2009

Charlton, Lyon Duchere, OL, Barcelona

“But, gentlemen of the jury, there are many kinds of silence. Consider first the silence of a man who is dead. Let us suppose we go into the room where he is laid out, and we listen: what do we hear? Silence. What does it betoken, this silence? Nothing; this is silence pure and simple. But let us take another case. Suppose I were to take a dagger from my sleeve and make to kill the prisoner with it; and my lordships there, instead of crying out for me to stop, maintained their silence. That would betoken! It would betoken a willingness that I should do it, and under the law, they will be guilty with me. So silence can, according to the circumstances, speak!”

So, what can we infer from Charlton’s silence of late? First and foremost, it’s reasonable to suppose that the prospective Varney takeover is indeed serious. If not, and if the rumours are to be believed (takeover goes ahead he’s replace, no takeover he stays) there would at the very least have been confirmation of Parkinson’s position. Of course, that’s not to say that it is going to happen; but until that matter is settled it would appear that everything – including the extent of player disposals – is on hold. And there’s bugger all to write about, other than the relative merits of Varney taking the reins. Not much to say there either. Let’s face it, anyone with a non-rubber cheque book would pass muster at the moment (which is not for a second to bracket Varney in the category of, for example, Man City’s new owners).

In the absence of anything better to do than wait, and to salivate at the sparkling line-up of pre-season friendlies, and to finally get around to season ticket renewal (don’t know about anyone else, but there always needs to be some sort of break at the end of a season, even a good one – remember those, the boring ones of mid-table Premiership mediocrity - before thinking about the next), I’m going to naff off to Barcelona for a jolly. At least the Catalans won’t be crying in their beer this side of Wednesday.

Finally, an update on the fortunes of Lyon Duchere, my adopted French team. The last mention of them covered their slide from fourth in the 18-team CFA Groupe B to 13th after three draws and four defeats in their previous seven games. Since then La Duch have broken their pattern of drawing at home and losing away – by starting to lose at home too (although a 0-1 reverse against table-topping Heyers was no real disgrace – they have the remarkable record of having scored only 35 goals in 32 games but conceded only 16; ‘1-0 to the Heyers’ must be a regular refrain). Duchere now stand 15th in the division with two games left. They have the local derby against Lyon B before finishing off with a home game against Toulon at the end of the month. I don’t think they can be relegated, but that’s a bit subjective as I’ve no idea how many are demoted.

Ah, expectations and success and failure. At least the massed ranks of Duchere supporters can delight in reminding their OL counterparts that for the first time in living memory their first team hasn’t won the French title, or even manage to qualify for the Champions League. They can’t catch Bordeaux or Marseilles and the season for Lyon has been an unmitigated disaster. They face heavy cutbacks to compensate for the loss of revenue – and are left to hope that Barcelona win on Wednesday as that apparently gives them a few more bob (Lyon having lost to Barcelona). You see, if you ramble on long enough you can find a link between Charlton, Lyon Duchere, Olympique Lyonnais – and Barcelona. If Duchere avoid relegation they will be the only one four to look back on this season with any sense of achievement.

Sunday 3 May 2009

That Was The Season That Was

That was the season that was, it’s over, let it go. I think it was Millicent Martin that used to sing the TW3 theme song. She wasn’t at The Valley today, but she might have been. A global epidemic failed to come to our rescue and we were doomed. And just like a year ago Charlton sent us off for the summer with something close to a smile on our faces and thoughts of what might have been. Sod it, let’s just enjoy the victory.

Surely nobody wants a review of the game. It was fun, for us. It was fun for the Norwich fans – for about a minute. That was the time between their hearing that Barnsley had gone one down and us scoring. After that it was clutching at straws. We played well enough against a limited team, one that had no pace but which carried a threat from every set piece – especially after Doherty had managed to take out two Charlton defenders from a corner, one of which (Ward) was carried off. But having been given a sniff of a chance just before half-time, I was expecting them to come out after the break to really go for it. That they didn’t said a lot about their state of mind.

For the record, we scored good goals. Sam delivered a splendid cross from the right for Bailey to head in, then Racon worked the space for a shot from the right which spilled up and allowed Burton to finish. And a ball in from the left, one of those shots-come-crosses that the goalkeeper and defenders can’t deal with, was deflected by Burton for his second. With Doherty’s elephant-like behaviour having seen off Ward, and Youga switching to central defence, we were always light in the air at the back, and just before the break Norwich executed a fairly simple far post nod back for a finish to get them back in it. Next goal was going to win it, and Sam again provided, getting past the full-back and squaring it for Burton to complete his hat-trick. That Norwich pulled one back from a direct free kick was pretty much irrelevant. In the final 20 minutes either side could have scored more, without it mattering.

No player ratings (I’ve been to the pub and life’s too short), but some overall impressions. Burton, who in my opinion over the last few games has started to show that he wasn’t a daft signing, played well as the lone forward – and a hat-trick is something to celebrate whatever the circumstances. Sam, frustrating as he can be, delivered two of our goals on a plate. Solly came on and had a splendid first-team debut, while Tuna’s late introduction could easily have seen him score. Hudson, who had my vote as player of the season, had another impressive game, while Zhi ... looked from the start like he was saying goodbye.

Now we wait and see. Will there be a Varney-led takeover? Will we keep a nucleus of a team capable of bringing us back up? Will Parkinson be retained? All out of our hands. It was a decent send-off and an enjoyable afternoon. What the world looks like come August is another matter. Personally, I’m going to crack open another bottle of red and look forward to getting my DVD – just in case I feel a sense of optimism coming on. Then I’m going to get up at 03.30 to go to Amsterdam in the morning. There’s always someone worse off than yourself. At the moment he’s wearing yellow and green.