Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Take A Bow Sir Chris, Your Team Won Tonight

We are staying up. And for that credit is due. Mostly to the players; they kept the spirit, determination and focus that was necessary through the past few months. Jose Riga deserves credit too. He inherited a situation not of his making, helped to keep that spirit going, and achieved an end-result that was all that could be asked for. But tonight I hope one guy is raising a glass to himself, and that’s Sir Chris. It was the values that he helped to install, the players that he chose to bring to the club, that won out in the end. Take a bow Sir Chris, because you deserve it. Along with Jose.

We won tonight because we got the breaks when it mattered, but also because we had players that at crucial moments in a game took things by the scruff of the neck and made something happen. Of course there was a difference in motivation, which is not to say that Watford made it easy. Just that when it came to the crunch Hamer made an outstanding save, Jackson made a run that turned the game, Wilson made a run and delivered a cross – oh, and yes Harriott buried two on his left foot.

This isn’t really a match report. We’ve all been celebrating avoiding the final day dramas – and if Kermorgant can notch a few on Saturday it might be a perfect end: Morrison the worthy winner of player of the year (for his efforts in the past three seasons), Wilson a worthy runner-up, and Kermorgant deserving of the bronze. But a few details.

We set up with a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 depending on how you look at it, with Wilson and Harriott playing either side of Sordell. It offered the opportunity for more down the right side than before, but also nothing for either ‘wide’ man to create much, with Cousins once more in a sort of ‘in the hole’ position. No matter, much depended on how Watford approached the game: on their summer holidays already or in a carefree mood? It proved to be something between the two. Nobody could say they didn’t care, but they didn’t care enough and that counted.

The first half was all about two incidents. First, Harriott had the ball facing the goal and the world and his dog thought, if you’re a Watford defender, don’t let him get the space to shoot with his left. They did. The shot didn’t exactly find the corner of the net, but their keeper was a replacement and it went in. Well taken, but poor defending. Then they had a corner and from it Hamer pulled off what could reasonably be described as the save of the season, somehow scrambling to his right to turn the header onto the bar and safety.

Having grabbed the lead and held it to the break, it was tough to see what might happen next as thoughts of us scoring again tended to fade. We all knew we’d be happy with the final whistle. Again it seemed down to Watford as much as us in a cat and mouse game. And we let them back in. They’ve scored a bucket-load of goals this season and they are, quite frankly, used to scoring. So when Dervite allowed a ball to bounce over his head their guy took full advantage and buried one into the roof of the net.

At that stage, most neutrals would have backed a Watford win. You couldn’t see where a goal for us might come from. Thoughts turned to a draw not being so bad, perhaps allowing us and Blackpool to play out 90 minutes of keep-ball. But Obika came on for Sordell, who had worked hard enough in a tough ask, and one of his first contributions changed the game. He held the ball well and delivered one into the box that Jackson just thought might be his. He made it his, going through the defender’s lunge and then poking it past their keeper. As the scorer of a crucial goal no-one was more appropriate. He made the run, took the chance, and was rewarded.

Now with our tails up and something to defend again, Watford’s discipline went a little. Their spoilt brat of a left-back had previously lost his rag for a while and both the ref and the linesman failed to notice him tripping Wilson in an off –the-ball incident, one about as cynical as it gets. No matter, he was to pick up a yellow shortly afterwards and everyone had taken note. And then Wilson decided to make him pay, by getting down the right and delivering a peach of a cross to the incoming Harriott. He just will never hit a sweeter volley as this one did find the corner of the net.

3-1 and to round things off their guy picked up a second yellow – an iffy one as Poyet had ducked into the ball, but only justice for the one that went unnoticed by the officials. As last five minutes go this was as good as it gets, with few nerves and much to celebrate.

This isn’t the time to talk about what happens next. Suffice to say the players that won us the game tonight take the credit, along with the guy that brought them to our club. I’d quite like to see the team on Saturday made up of those that were brought in to ‘strengthen’ us in January turn out and see what happens. But that would be trite, and unfair on Riga. I can’t sing ‘Jose Riga’s Red and White Army’ but that’s not a reflection on him. Tonight we celebrate and our board should breathe a big sigh of relief, that the spirit that was in the team before they took over survived.


Anonymous said...

slight correction re JJ's goal, it was Morgan Fox who delivered a well paced cross for Jack o to get hold of and score

Anonymous said...

What an utter load sh!t.. Powell would have got us relegated. get your head out your ar$e

Anonymous said...

Chris Solly, Morgan Fox, Jordan Cousins, Diego Poyet, Johnnie Jackson & Callum Harriott were all brought to the club before Powell arrived BA.

One of the reasons often given for Powell's poor first seaon was that the team he inherited & took from a play-off place to thirteenth did not contain 'his' players. Factually inaccurate btw, CP brought in John Sullivan, Fererico Bessone, Michael Stewart, Dean Parrett, Nathan Ecclestone, Frank Nouble & BWP, six of the seven had PL experience.

Riga has achieved the same number of wins as CP in half the number of matches, with a group of players that weren't 'his'.

Do you not think that you are letting Chris Powell the player & wonderful guy cloud your judgement of Chris Powell the manager?

Anonymous said...

BA, I thought you quit on the lads ?

Anonymous said...

Your obsession with Powell is worrying. Your wife could get a divorce, citing Powell as the reason. Are you a Charlton supporter or is Powell who you really support.

Dave said...

Good post, as usual. I get the sentiment even if some don't. You gave Jose Riga credit too but the divisive nature of what's happened since Duchatelet came is evident from the comments. Given the fickleness of our fan base you would have had supportive comments from similar posters had we lost tonight. Such a shame. Unfortunately, it will take another 9 months before we settle this amongst ourselves. I sincerely hope we get the investment our squad needs and we avoid another relegation battle next year. What I am certain about is that there will be a lot of churn and if we are predominantly reliant upon new players from the network we won't be strong enough to do anything other than fight another rearguard action.

Malpal, Sydney said...

I think Jose should be given some credit for the way he has used the young players. In the past they were not given sufficient opportunity and eventually good young players such as Shelvey and Jenkinson moved on to the Premier League. If only we could keep the Class of '14 and, with the help of more experienced players, develop a team which can progress through to the PL.

Anonymous said...

Your worship of Powell is bordering on the obsessive and the credit your determined to give him all the time misplaced.

We are safe and the as to the future......suspicion reigns.

newyorkaddick said...

I assumed the title of your post was ironic then I realised it wasn't!

I'm not sure why Powell should get any credit for what has happened since he left - indeed I think his legacy has been considerably discredited.

We had 27 points from 30 games and now we have 48 from 45. Ironically Riga has achieved a points per game ratio identical to that achieved by Powell in 2012/13, with a stronger squad. Meanwhile Riga had to pick up the pieces midway through a disastrous season and in the aftermath of a sorry FA Cup exit.

Win on Saturday and Riga would have delivered play-off form in his 19 matches.

It's been a remarkable turnaround achieved without Stephens and Kermorgant (whose departure we were assured by some would guarantee relegation), and far greater use of the Academy than the 'network'.

Most importantly (for me at least), it's been achieved whilst playing far more attractive football. In short the players were allowed to express themselves and they proved they weren't as mediocre as we were led to believe they were.

I politely think you need to move on :-)

newyorkaddick said...

Sorry I meant to say, "Win on Saturday and Riga would have delivered play-off form in his 16 matches."

Blackheath Addicted said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Thought the headline might prompt some.

I don't 'hero worship' Powell, think he was perfect etc. He was/is a young, developing manager who of course made mistakes (or rather decisions that didn't work out). The point I was trying to make is that we stayed up because the character and determination of a number of players remained intact. That is to their credit, and to the credit of the man who oversaw bringing them in and was instrumental in cementing an admirable team spirit. I don't think that ignores the job that Riga has done, or the impact of the young players that have come through.

Of course we will never know what would have happened if Powell had remained. It is possible it would have gone pear-shaped, because the owner and manager were at loggerheads. That was a situation not created by Powell, except to the extent that he felt unable to accept what was in the contract offered to him.

Now the need to avoid any negativity has passed, I'll write more about 'moving on' and related issues. That is of course when I'm ready for the next round.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Oh, by the way, forgot to add about 'giving up on us'. Never. I'll always be an Addick. I didn't attend some games out of disgust but would never have pretended to be indifferent to whether or not we went down. What happens re next season I still have to think about.

Anonymous said...

Whoever begrudges Chris Powell credit for our staying up has a damn short memory, and no idea as to the heart of this club. Yes Riga deserves credit, as BA mentions in fact, but the drive, determination "our charlton back" grit which kept us up - Powell did that and he deserves credit for it. His sacking was, and remains, criminal.

Anonymous said...

The fight, determination and grit your explain.....

I think a certain Mr. Jackson has to take a lot of the credit for that, I think he has particularly shone under Riga also, first half of the season he looked off the pace, uninterested as did most of the squad to be honest. the performances of certain individuals has been exemplary of Riga's coaching style. Dervite has been a real talisman these last few games but under Powell looked mediocre, Harriet's inclusion in the squad at sheff wed baffled many after the dismal performance he had against Bolton / Barnsley. Powell would have dropped him (and rightly so) but Riga saw something in him that can create a bit of magic for us Charlton fans. there are certainly two different very different styles between Powell and Riga, to be honest I loved Powell as a man and for bringing us out of the depths of hell (League One) but Riga's style of play and success is better to watch.

the die hard attitude Jacko brings spreads among the squad, not from Powell on the side line /seat.

One more thing, Riga is constantly animated, talking to the squad and involved in the game, something Powell didn't do a great deal.

however, when we sang Jose, give us a wave, he failed to deliver. Shame :-)

Anonymous said...

I bet you have a picture of Chris Powell in your toilet!

Jose Riga did an amazing job keeping us up, give him the credit he deserves!

Anonymous said...

On April 3rd 2014 you wrote "Coming up to the weekend and I feel like I have a decision to make. Almost a month since I last watched a game, at Bramall Lane, unless you include the first five minutes of the home game against Huddersfield for the tribute to Sir Chris (after which I took my leave). I was away in Lyon for the Millwall trip and the home game against Bournemouth (which I might have gone to just to applaud Kermorgant), passed on the Burnley home game (despite having scheduled the return from France to be able to make it), and had no inclination to make trips to Nottingham, Derby or Leeds. Now we have two home games coming up and I’m torn."

Now if this isn't quitting on Charlton I don't know what is.

Why was you torn ?, maybe because Jose had started to turn it around and we were playing attractive football.
Just a thought.

To Jose, the coaches, the players and most of all the fans who didn't quit thank you we stayed up.

Blackheath Addicted said...

No argument from me re Jackson. He and others deserve enormous credit for their contributions to survival. I've no way of knowing what went on in the dressing room through the season, whether it was Powell or a cadre of senior players, or just one or two of them. Either way, Powell brought them in not least for those qualities.

As for 'quitting', believe it or not I'm well aware of what games I did and didn't go to. And if you read the post in full you'd know why I was torn: nothing to do with the football on show, everything to do with not feeling right watching us with any feelings of ambivalence.

For the record, I went to the pub before the Reading game to meet fellow Addicks but ended up not going, perhaps because there was one Addick without a ticket and he was more likely than me to benefit from it. When it came to Yeovil it was a case of either going or being indifferent to us getting relegated, which I've never pretended to be. I went and have been to the home games since.

What happens next is down to our owner and the outcome of the daftly delayed meetings between the board and supporters groups.

Anonymous said...

Riga got something out of these players that Chris couldn't for whatever reason. That he did so without be able to get out on the training ground properly is quite remarkable. He also secured safety without Yann and Stephens, two players that Chris had almost throughout his time this season. Look at how Harriott and Sordell have played of late under Riga. Did Chris get the best out of Cameron Stewart, a quality winger and another not available to Riga. Clearly our football has improved, if you don't agree with that then look at the results. Chris is too defensive by nature just look at the draw at Yeovil for evidence of that. Despite your protestations it seems you'd rather have been relegated with Chris than survive.

Blackheath Addicted said...

NYA, fair points but I don't think you can glean much from those stats. As VotV pointed out, our points per game improved significantly in the final stages of last season. And I don't think it's churlish, or taking anything away from Riga and the players, to point out that we were lucky to play away at Forest and Leeds when they were in disarray.

Not sure about others, but I never thought/wrote that the sale of the three in January guaranteed relegation, only that the moves made significantly increased the risk of us going down (something that I still believe).

You're right about the need to move on. Only question is whether for me that involves accepting all that the new regime may entail or, for at least a while, walking away.

Anonymous said...

Glad you are sticking to your guns BA. Why do people get abusive when it is something they don't understand? Just by saying 'move on' doesn't mean someone can do it - its like telling someone with depression to pull yourself together. There are just as many like you as there are people who can chop and change their affections at the drop of a hat. Did you hear them all last night clapping Callum off when they had been baying for his blood earlier in the game - I had 2 behind me and how I loved it when he scored - twice! There is a great article in VOTV about the very subject of moving on which sums up how I feel too. I would love to be able to get the feeling back that I had at the start of the season, and I trust that I will. My application is on hold until the meeting with the fans and answers to some very important questions. But I won't be abusive of fans who choose to do differently. I find it very sad when we all support the same club. Have a lovely summer BA.

Anonymous said...

A true fan couldnt walk away. You go come what may.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Nice ones to wrap up on (I do have to get some work done). Thanks for the kind one. And I did indeed feel that way regarding Selhurst Park and went. Others didn't and some of them probably came back later - and were welcomed back.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you felt disgust at the way that parkinson was treated because he was sacked when we were in a strong position to gain promotion. Did you boycott games? CP departed in the same way he arrived, a takeover, a new regime and a decision to change the management.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Well Anon, the simple answer to that is 'no'. At the time I was surprised that Parkinson went so quickly (he had only recently won manager of the month, albeit he went after a lame home defeat) and concerned over what might happen next. We had no idea that Powell would get the job.

Don't forget, when Parkinson went the bookies immediately installed Wise as odds-on favourite for the job. I don't know whether that was their intention, whether the bookies had inside info, or indeed whether the outpouring of opposition to that possibility by most (if not all) Addicks influenced the owners' decision.

Would it have been right if Wise had been appointed for Charlton fans to say 'oh well, we support the club whatever so we accept it and 'move on'?

WG said...

You're right that it was Powell's team playing on Tues but they weren't playing Powell football, and I'm one of the tens of thousand of Addicks still in love with him.

As for next season, a nine-month sabbatical in Lyon might help your decision-making for the longer term.

Blackheath Addicted said...

WG, fair point. Indeed, for me the only one that sticks re Powell/Riga is that it is quite possible that the latter got more out of some players (although Poyet broke into the first team under Powell).

The sabbatical suggestion just might suit me fine, but have you no sympathy for my poor partner Suzanne? She currently only has to put up with me in small (regular) doses.

Charlton Scrapbook said...

Until we came up against a Watford team that are already on their holiday, Riga had the same record as Powell. Yes, the football has been a bit more attractive under Riga, but on the whole it's still been rubbish. We're still the lowest scorers in the whole of the football league. Powell suffered by losing all his strikers, apart from kermorgant before the season started. Then he lost Solly to injury and did his best with a squad that is still basically Division One standard. If you weaken a team rather than strengthen it, which is what happened this year, then you're going to be flirting with relegation whoever the manager is. Football is an expensive hobby and to me, it needs to be entertaining, otherwise it's not worth it. Kermorgant was our best entertainer and I'll never forgive our owner for selling him. I've been watching Charlton since 1969 but I'm not going to continue forking out money that I haven't got if we're still going to be served up with the same rubbish next season (and I don't care if that makes me not a true supporter). Totally agree with your sentiments BA. I don't think some of the anonymous people have bothered to read your blog properly.....oh, and thanks for the Reading ticket!

Anonymous said...

Charlton Scrapbook, I know it's probably not anything to boast about, but we now have the same number of goals as Blackpool.

Martin Cowan