Sunday, August 10, 2014
And they're off!
Whilst the upper echelons of the English game are still travelling Europe and beyond chasing the pound signs from that meaningless friendly, the business end of the profession has once again embraced competition like a long lost friend.
It's true to say that some would see the Football League's opening weekend as a latecomer to the ball, the majority of Combined Counties sides now have three games beneath their belts, but for the majority of true paying football fans yesterday was the day they had dreamed of since the final whistle of last season. Forget the World Cup and all it's coverage, speak to a Mansfield Town or Notts County supporter and that was just a Summer sideshow.
Unfortunately for me, as is normal in early August, I had to put a full days shift in at work and could therefore not join in with the party atmosphere. Twitter was awash with Addicks either posting pictures of themselves, pint in hand, on a boat down the Thames or arranging with friends which drinking house to meet up in for pre match festivities. I'd forgotten that social media, as well as being a comforting friend in times of loneliness could also be a damning enemy rubbing salt in a wound come match day. I will eventually learn to shun it under such circumstances, but it's hard, it is such a tease after all.
Twitter does of course have other devious aspects and can whet your appetite when the bowl is, in reality, empty. With eight first team signings this summer, seven of which made their full debut yesterday, it would appear Addicks around the globe want more. A young former beach footballer from France, striker Andy Delort, has been linked with the club for what seems like an eon now. It's on, it's off, so and so are linked with him, it's never-ending and has quite frankly started to bore me recently. Once upon a time the local paper or Ceefax would have alerted us to a new face, saving us from the torment of speculation. Yannis Salibur is the latest and now also thrown into the mix. In all truth, I don't even know who these people are, let alone if I really care at this stage if they go on to play for my club.
I do know who Simon Church is, I also know he didn't travel with the team to Brentford. What I don't know is if there is any credit to the possibility of a deal involving himself and Sam Baldock of Bristol City changing places. I'd still like to think there's a chance of Church exploring the Duchâtelet network and spending a year visiting distant outposts in the Hungarian league. Don't panic, I don't expect you all to harbour such sadistic thoughts.
So who did travel to Brentford on the team coach? Only full backs Solly and Wiggins and midfielders Jackson and Cousins started from last season. Franck Moussa was the only new face not to start. You had to feel for Michael Morrison who must have wondered who would partner him out of Bikey and Ben Haim, not watch the pair lace up their boots together. He had familiarity as other 'old' faces kept him company on the bench in the shape of Pope, Wilson, Pigott, Harriott and Morgan Fox.
Goals had always been the problem, hence I presume this further speculation towards possible new strikers, but it would appear in Igor Vetokele and George Tucudean Bob Peeters had addressed the problem and addressed it with aplomb. The former scoring on his debut whilst the latter certainly getting himself into a good position in the first half to do the same. Things look promising and Vetokele probably has the makings of a crowd favourite. Callum Harriott however continues to frustrate. The scoring form he found at the tail end of last season now resides in the lost property box, left on the beach this summer. A great opportunity when confronted with an open goal was spurned as he hit the woodwork. Early days though.
Cousins played out wide, not his strongest position on the park and something former managers were slated for doing. I hope he can justify a stronger role in weeks to come, yet Gudmundsson from the ten minutes of highlights I've seen looked promising on the other side.
The 'noughties' defence partnership will face much harsher battles, as will debutant keeper Stephen Henderson, but initial thoughts are all positive. Everyone is happy with an away point to start the season, especially when it involves visiting a promoted side keen to make an impression. As I tweeted earlier, the biggest tweak I'd like to see to the match day squad would be the addition of a tie to the manager. We were spoilt with Powell, but even Riga wore his Top Man whistle religiously. We've certain standards to uphold here you know.
I expect an experimental side will run out to a deserted Valley on Tuesday for the visit of Colchester in the Capital One Cup, but then two good tests at home as first Wigan and then Derby travel to South East London. Peeters may stick with this eleven, I presume in his eyes it's his strongest, he may yet even throw a couple of different faces in that we've (and he's) yet to see, but it's certainly exciting times in Charlton and the anticipation of football is mouthwatering. Whether you approve of the Duchâtelet network or not, you can't deny it's been a while since you've been this enthusiastic.
Spare a thought for Mark Robins though who after just one match has become the first managerial casualty of the season. His Huddersfield side were beaten 4-0 at home to Bournemouth. It's crazy to think a job could hinge on one result, you would imagine an underlying current was already flowing there, but it's interesting to see the Cherries fourth goal was scored by a certain Yann Kermorgant. So much has changed since that whole affair dominated the Charlton blogs!
A timely reminder all the same on how Charlton kick-started a French forwards career in England. Food for thought amidst current speculation.