"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Interview with an opposition fan: Charlton Athletic

Is it too early to talk of six-pointers?  Derek McInnes certainly doesn't think so - his comments ahead of tomorrow's matched were laced with the potential importance to City's season, so ahead of Sunday's crunch clash with Charlton Athletic, The Exiled Robin is delighted to welcome Al Gordon, host of the intruigingly named God, Charlton and Punk Rock blog, to the site, who was kind enough to answer some of my questions:



You took the division by storm last season and were deserved Champions.  Has the step up been harder than you expected?
At the beginning of the season we would have settled for mid table but had deep down a small desire for reaching the play-offs. The likes of Norwich and Southampton (the two sides we got relegated to League One with) have almost set a precedent for back to back promotions although I don’t believe at Charlton we have the resources to build a Premier League side out of a League One squad in just one season.
We’ve played some good football already this season but have been punished for defensive mistakes time and time again. We also need to be a lot more clinical, chances aren’t so frequent as last year so we really do need to take them when we can.
I believe the first fifteen games have been quite a stern lesson for the players, officials and supporters alike.
 
So is Chris Powell still bullet-proof as the gaffer or are questions being asked?
Obviously Chris Powell is a firm favourite with the fans and can do no wrong in many eyes. The support for him was unbelievable on Tuesday at home to Cardiff, 15,000 Addicks were right behind him for the whole 96 minutes.
He has been criticised for his substitutions, his constant playing people out of position whilst seemingly overlooking other options and also for fielding a rather negative 4-5-1 at home. Sometimes you get the feeling we’re playing not to lose rather than to win. I however want to see him get the full season under his belt, I believe we’re too good to go down and the man deserves this chance after the success he got in his first full season. He’s a young manager learning his trade, there will never be a more comfortable environment for him to do this in.
There is however a ‘but’. There are continuous reports of his relationship with the board being a little strained. They have made it clear they’ll have things done their way (it’s their money at the end of the day), but Chris Powell and director Tony Jimenez aren’t from all accounts the best of friends. Time will tell.
 
You've made a couple of decent-looking loan signings this week, is this a sign of desperation or just covering injuries?
Dan Seaborne is a great addition to the squad. We were down to just one fit full back in the senior ranks before his arrival as the club has been ravaged by injury. Rhoys Wiggins and Cedric Evina both left sided full backs are sidelined resulting in Chris Solly (our player of the year) playing out of position. His place on the right was taken by Lawrie Wilson who has also now entered the over capacity treatment room. Someone, much funnier than myself, joked the other day that perhaps we should get another physio in on loan too!

Eggert Johnsson had a great reputation in Scotland with Hearts but the Icelandic midfielder has struggled to turn heads at Wolves. In fact one Wolves supporter remarked to a friend of mine that he was one of the worst players he’s ever seen in a gold shirt. I’ve faith in Chris Powell’s judgement albeit out of loyalty, and to the players credit he can fill a full back berth if needs be.
 
How was Tuesday night for you (Charlton came back from two goals down, to go 5-2 up and eventually defeat Cardiff 5-4)?
There are some nights that will stay in your mind for years to come, this was one of them. We’d had a real footballing lesson from Middlesbrough last Saturday so expectation wasn’t too high as the league leaders at that time came into town. Three minutes in and a goal down, I began to wonder if I should have just stayed in the pub.
We showed some determination and desire to claw our way back into the game, the crowd sensed it and it was like flicking on an electrical power supply resulting in an atmosphere the likes of which were long forgotten in recent times.
In fairness the defending was comical from both teams and I’ve no idea where the referee got six minutes of stoppage time from. They were six of the longest minutes of my life, only Charlton could come back like that and then nearly throw it all away. (ER - True, City could come back like that, but they would have thrown it all away; Burnley a few weeks ago springs to mind!)
The one dampener on the evening was Palace going top.
 
Bearing in mind we've already lost 3-5 and 3-4 at home this season, do you think Sunday will be another goals galore bonanza or will Powell look to tighten up after midweek?
I’m certain Chris Powell will want to tighten up, eight goals conceded in the last two games is unacceptable at any level, but with a new face guaranteed to start at the back communication may not be at its best across our rear guard.
Concentration is a must for the full ninety minutes, we can’t afford to start slowly again, or lose focus at the end. As I said before, switch off at this level for just the briefest of moments and you’ll get punished.
A clean sheet will not only be a welcomed addition for the boss but also Ben Hamer in goal who must have enjoyed the midweek win less than anybody. Quite simply we cannot afford to keep shipping goals the way we have been.
Both sides have proved they can not only score goals but also leak them as well, what price on a 0-0 now?
 
Danny Haynes appears to have had his injury problems but was at the heart of Tuesday's win?  How has the former Robin been for you and is he likely to start on Sunday?
Danny has been a forgotten man at Charlton. He has been well down the pecking order since his arrival at the club with I believe just three starts before Tuesday. His performance against Cardiff was, in my eyes, worthy of a man of the match accolade.
I hope we get to see a lot more of him as the season progresses but I fear Sunday he’ll be travelling back to Ashton Gate as a spectator only.
He came off on Tuesday night I believe carrying a knock but there is a possibility it was just cramp.  Not a game goes by without someone limping off the pitch.
 
In this season preview for The Exiled Robin, @ramblingaddick was raving about Yann Kermorgant.  Other than a potentially inevitable Haynes goal, is he the man City should be watching out for or is he still some way from full fitness?
Again, you’ll be watching him in the stands. He’s been out injured for nearly two months. Don’t panic, I’m sure we can field eleven players come Sunday.
Yann was instrumental in our success last season, a target man that can also use his feet to great effect. So popular with the supporters that they often sing “we all dream of a team of Kermorgants” although I have to hold my hands up and say he does go to ground a little too easily for my liking.
I believe Yann is still a couple of weeks away from returning so Rob Hulse is likely to continue alone up front. Having been told By Queen’s Park Rangers, who still hold his registration, that he has no future there (and also no squad number), he is very much in the shop window and hence has everything to play for. His performance on Tuesday was also immense and on par with that of Danny Haynes.
Bradley Wright-Phillips seems to only appear in a twenty minute cameo role these days, full of running and enthusiasm he does seem a little out of his depth at this level. We don’t have an out and out twenty goals a season player, just a team that are all more than capable of getting their names on the score sheet.
 
From what you've seen this season, who are the best and worst sides you've faced, and have you been impressed with any one particular player at the higher level?
Middlesbrough last weekend thoroughly proved why they occupy top spot as we speak, and did look a class above. However, both Leicester and Cardiff have come to SE7 and lost which emphasises that everyone is beatable in the Championship.
Nottingham Forest chose our visit to show the rest of the division what they are capable of, yet it remains only Boro and Forest (for forty five minutes) that have played us off the park.
Arch rivals Crystal Palace came to The Valley back in September and took all three points although they failed to dominate, the one difference between the sides being Wilfried Zaha.
He twisted and turned his way through the full backs all night, even swapping sides to tease on both flanks. Definitely head and shoulders above the rest, it’s no wonder all the big clubs are not just monitoring him but waving big fortunes under the nose of Palace. I would be amazed if he isn’t getting the likes of Hansen and Shearer excited every Saturday night on Match of the Day after January.
 
And finally, the inevitable score prediction.  These are incredibly hard to pick for City home games this season!
I’m really hoping the momentum of Tuesday will carry us through and we can return to London with all three points. It’s still too early to be calling this a six pointer isn’t it?
With all due respect to yourselves, we cannot afford to be going to a bottom three club and coming away with less than a point, otherwise it won’t be long before we’re also a member of the exclusive three.
I do still foresee defensive nightmares though so I am plumping for a 2-2 draw. I’ll take a point away from home all day long, whoever the opposition.

Many thanks again to Al for these words, you can follow him on Twitter here:


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post, had the pleasure of meeting Al recently, top bloke. A shame to see City bottom, but hopefully things will pick up for them soon. Always liked Charlton and hope they continue to progress under Powell.

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