Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Friday 31 August 2007
  Valley revolving door shuts Whilst Marcus Bent is scaring the girls in Wigan, Amady Faye will be scaring football fans witless in Glasgow. Blimey didn't they learn nothing from Francis Jeffers? That video that Walter Smith received from Faye's agent must have been bloody short.

Anyway lets hope that they don't have a recall clause, although I did read that Wigan are only contributing part of Bent's salary, which shows that Hutchings pretty much took him of our hands.

With Luke Varney soon to return and with Dickson in reserve, Pards clearly feels comfortable with his front players and credit to Big Chris for proving to his manager that he should be number 1. We are loaded with midfield players, albeit I would suggest slightly lacking in the holding role, particularly until Holland returns but Faye has to be up there with one of the most disliked players in recent years. Well maybe just behind Bent (M).

In come two loan players. One we know pretty well, Danny Mills and although he didn't always get the best of receptions on his returns to The Valley, I think this signing will be well received by Addicks. An experienced head on strong shoulders and there is no doubt that he did go on from us and made a very good career for himself. But Leeds and Man City have not been the most steady of environments to flourish and although he played under Phil Parkinson at Hull last season, he comes to us with a bit to prove too.

I know less about Sam Sodje, apart from the fact that he was born in Greenwich but a season-long loan from Reading gives us a much needed further option at centre-half. No offence to Sam but hopefully he is that 'big lump' they we have been missing!

By the way in case you were wondering (I looked it up) his bandana wearing brother Efe plays for Gillingham, brother Akpo signed for Sheffield Wed yesterday and ex-Charlton youngster and cousin Onome is at York City. He has a brother Steve playing non-league at Ashford Town and his last brother Bright plays rugby league for Sheffield Eagles. Quite a dynasty eh?

That by the way is 19 players out and 16 in during the summer - described very well by Blackheath Addicted here.

Tomorrow's one of those games when I would give my right arm to be there but hopefully the Charlton blogosphere and the mobile network will hold firm so I can get to feel part of it from here. Make yourselves loud Addicks. 
Thursday 30 August 2007
  Watch out Miss Wigan Athletic News that has shaken the Miss Wigan Athletic finalists today. Marcus Bent is coming.... quick hide.

Each finalist will get goodie bags from Boots and Debenhams, a Wigan Athletic shirt, one month's gym membership, will line-up on the pitch at the first game of the season, make an appearance at Walkabout, and receive a bottle of Wigan Athletic wine.... and a night out with their super new striker! How lucky can a lady be? (more
  Two Addicks in Chicago I had a very nice lunch with Wyn Grant today. Wyn is no stranger to Chicago having first visited here in the 80's and as he remembered the city was a very different place then. You only had to leave your hotel to get shot at in those days, you need to travel quite a distance to get that sort of action now!

We sat in the sun by the glimmering Chicago River with a pint and swapped stories of becoming Addicks in different generations, the old Charlton, the new Charlton and of a Charlton in the future perhaps under different ownership.

It was a very nice way to spend an hour or two and as we parted we shook hands and left each other in the knowledge that we weren't alone, Wyn heading off to the British Consulate for drinks later and me back to work. Two blogs, two devoted Addicks. 
  Memories of Crystal Palarse Crystal Palace 0-1 Charlton, 25th March, 2000
Our away form this season was cracking. In all my time as an Addick our away form was never much to write home about but during our title year we put on some wonderful performances away from The Valley and in some games we didn't just win but won well. Stockport, Pompey, Grimsby, Norwich to name but four. In fact this victory over Palace was our 12th away from home and a club record.

We had not beaten Palace at their tin-pot ground for 65 years and I had seen us lose there more times than I cared to remember but despite the game entering the final 10 minutes and me being a perennial pessimist, we always looked like we could snatch it.

The 2nd half in particular was such one-way traffic and with 15 minutes left Curbs felt we could win it too and made a decidely positive couple of substitutions by bringing on Paul Kitson for Hunt and ex-Cheese Roll Salako for Newton.

9,000 Addicks were squashed into that crappy Arthur Wait stand that Saturday afternoon for Palace's biggest crowd of the season by a country mile. And 9,000 fans gave it so large when on loan Kitson confidently tapped in a cross from Chrissy Powell with 8 minutes left. "We'll never play you again," we sung and oh how we laughed!

The game was played in wet conditions if I remember rightly and we had the majority of the game, with Palace often on the back foot. We were 35 points clear of our loathed rivals before the game and it well and truly showed, even though they had Ashley Cole on loan from Arsenal and Mikael Forsell from Chelsea.

It was interesting to note according to the programme that that season our average home crowd was almost 5,000 more than the Nigels and the worm had most definitely turned and 7 years on we may be back in the same division but these days our old landlords are not fit to rent our outside bogs.

Charlton: Kiely, Barness, Tiler, Rufus, Powell, Newton (Salako 75), Kinsella, Stuart, Robinson (Konchesky 84), Hunt (Kitson 75), Svensson.
Subs not used: Royce, Parker

Palarse: Digby, Austin, Zhiyi, Linighan, Cole, Morrison, Mullins, Thomson (Foster 60), Carlise (Martin 84), McKenzie, Forsell.
Subs not used: Woozley, Gregg, Hunt 
Wednesday 29 August 2007
  Strange day Strange old day. Still not a sniff of news on a new defender, although this says that Robert Earnshaw has been linked to us, nay in fact locked on signed by us according to Plymouth manager Ian Holloway - strange indeed, I mean how many strikers do we need? But if Bent goes to Wigan and Heskey to Middlesbrough and if my Auntie was my Uncle....

See that Martin Allen got the sack today after 3 games. Is this saying more about a power-crazy club chairman or an obstinate and opinionated team manager? "Differences between both parties regarding the direction of the club have led to a breakdown in the relationship." Jeez, they've played 3 matches, made 14 new signings and just a few hours after poor Clive Clarke collapsed at half-time as well.

And is Roy Keane really just building a team capable of winning The Championship next season? Kenwyne Jones, 19 goals in 71 games for Southampton for £6m? Made for the Premiership surely.

Only 50 tickets now remain for Selhurst on Saturday. They are now on sale to Red Card ticket holders, which is about as much use as a paper ashtray to those of us that applied for one 18 months ago and never received it. I understand that any remaining tickets will go on sale to holders of a Tooting & Mitcham pre-season friendly ticket stub who can recite the alphabet backwards whilst drinking a can of Dr Pepper.

Seriously It seems that the police are looking for anyone looking particularly rowdy and making too much noise at the game on Saturday. A dubious looking letter has been allegedly issued to certain Addick supporters from the Met Police ahead of the game. More can be read here. So try to give it big on Saturday, whilst not getting yourselves into any bother and remember it's only Palarse. 
Tuesday 28 August 2007
  Stockport County at home. What was the score? Won 4-3 Thanks to Charlton Life and those either at the game with internet connections or close to a radio for allowing me to follow tonight's match up here on the moon, aka America.

This season looks like being a throw-back to the late 70's when we had to score 4 to win. Step forward Fortune and McCarthy the new Peter Shaw and Les Berry!

Mind you we did score 4, including the winner from Paddy McCarthy - when was the last time a central defender scored from a corner? For us, not against us. Yep, probably Peter Shaw, agreed.

The half-time stats had us down with 78% possession. But I wonder how many of the 8,022 stayed after the 70th minute because they were surely rewarded.

4-3 in a cup tie has to be so much better than a 1-0 and I certainly enjoyed following it from here sat at my desk. However questions have to be asked about our defence, one if not two of the goals sounded like absolute howlers and if League 2 Stockport can score 3 at home against us then we may need to score more than 4 (or the 3 against Sheff Wed) to win some our league matches this season.

The sale of Diawara, which the club were clearly forced into, is looking a really bad move, particularly when with him in the side during the pre-season games we never conceded a goal.

However we shouldn't grumble, Pards hopefully will bring in a defender before the week is out and the team produced another battling and entertaining display. Curbs' stifling tactics seem a long time ago, don't they?

Who was at The Valley: Blackheath Addicted; All Quiet; Charlton Athletic Online; County4Life.
Reports:; Sporting Life
What Pards' said: "The back four have to accept a lot of responsibility for what happened in the second half. We were comfortably controlling them in the first half so we have that ability, but we just lost focus in the second-half. We will tighten up at the back and I will bring in a defender, maybe two, if I think we need to."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Svetoslav Todorov. The strikers did everything asked of them tonight and Toddy's goal and shot that hit the bar gave us another insight into how good he can be for us this season. 
  Interruption The Carling Cup interrupts a week with a trip to Palarse at the end of it. I'm hoping it will be a good distraction and should allow Pards to tinkle with the line up a bit.

There was no doubt that the manager's tactics were all over the shop in the first half on Saturday and although redeeming himself in the 2nd, he clearly does not know what his best team is.

Tonight I think Pards will take the opportunity to give starts to both Randolph and Racon. The Frenchman taking up a central midfield spot alongside Zheng. The back four picks itself, with Semedo or Faye playing alongside Powell, McCarthy and Fortune.

Toddy and Big Chris did the business in the 2nd half on Saturday and I think we would be wise to start with those two again, particularly with rumours that Bent may be on his bike this week.

I will be following the game from here on the moon via morse code. 
Monday 27 August 2007
  Claus Jensen retires News reaches the Chicago Addick of Claus Jensen's early retirement due to injury. (more)

Claus started just over 30 games for Fulham in the 3 seasons he was there. I was aware that the Dane was struggling with injuries but not to the point where he had to give up the game. Maybe being clubless after 'walking out' on Fulham at the end of last season accelerated his plans for retirement. It's a shame because less than a year ago he scored against us, and at least I was at Craven Cottage to see it and he even played for Denmark in February, his 37th and last cap.

Never glad to find himself in a 50/50, Jensen was a wonderfully skilled player and watching him dance around the pitch in our shirt reminded me in those halycon days of how far we had come as a club. His goal at Arsenal in the 4-2 win was absolute quality and I won't forget his winning goal at home to Blackburn in 2004, just after Brad Friedal had equalised. It was one of my first games back after moving to Chicago.

A sad loss to the game at only 31 years of age. Good luck Santa. 
  Sheffield Wednesday at home. What was the score? won 3-2 Let me tell you what it is like being in America, with no contact with the outside world that is The Valley, this week made worse by the fact that I was in a car driving from Chicago to Michigan Saturday morning.

The days sitting in front of the tele' or next to my laptop in my pj's and slippers are over. Saturday I woke early, was mightily lifted by what I read in New York Addick's preview of the game. He has been at home for the whole of August and has his finger on the pulse. I get in the car in good spirits.

At half-time I am in a drive-thru Starbucks somewhere in Indiana and check the internet on my phone. 0-2. I am shocked and fed up. What the hell is going on there I keep thinking?

My girlfriend sensibly confiscates my mobile phone from me so I can't check to see if I have any texts or click online to see if I can get an update on the score whilst I'm driving 90mph on the Interstate Highway.

The phone doesn't ring, thus I can only assume the worse as the clock moves to 11.15am, which is 5.15pm SE7 time.

The Phone rings, my mate I suspect but girlfriend holds my phone up in the air so I can't answer it. Fortunately I have one of those ear-plug things and I call him back.

3-2 he says calmly. Life is good.

I get home last night and read New York Addick's report - I think he's on drugs but it is the end of a great day and completes a circle of emotions from that spiritual place on what now sometimes seems like another planet.

Who was at The Valley: New York Addick; All Quiet; Addicks Championship Diary; Many Miles; Charlton North Downs; SE3 Addicks.
Reports: Sheffield Wednesday FC;; The Times; Telegraph.
What Pards' said: "Too right the fans booed, I was booing myself when I came off. It was horrible and ugly. We could play a million games and not look as bad as we did in that first 20 minutes and I'm not going to watch it again. I can't. I'd resign."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Chris Iwelumo. Big Chris scored 18 Championship goals last season and is off the mark for us after two clinical finishes.
  Patrick Collins interview "Lennie somehow lifted them into the old First Division when they were exiled to Selhurst Park, a charmless ground standing in the shadow of a supermarket. The club owes him a debt that it can never repay."

More from Charlton fan and journalist Patrick Collins can be found here
Friday 24 August 2007
  Not wanting to be left behind "I don't want to play catch-up, it's a very difficult league as it is, and you don't want to have to come from too far behind." (more)

Yep sure is and a league where anyone can beat anyone but although I believe we will get better as a team as the season progresses, we do not want to be left behind. A unrelenting flow of games means there are plenty of opportunities to get over bad results or continue good form, but all this needs to carried out at the right end of the table to keep the promotion dream alive and Addicks believing.

Right back has now become a problem with Moo2Kil and Sankofa's injuries. We might expect to see ZZ there tomorrow, with Thomas back on the left with Reid moving inside next to Semedo. I wouldn't be surprised to see Toddy brought back in for McLeod with him and Iwelumo sat on the bench in case Pards needs to change it.

I plan a day out tomorrow - weather permitting - so will be relying on texts from the ground.

Finally Pards mentioned that Amdy Faye could be on his way next week, shame. "If he stays then we know we've got a player who has been good enough in the past to play in the Premier League." Yeh, righto. 
  Take an umbrella This wasn't me walking home last night as I didn't have an umbrella!

After Tornado warnings in the afternoon, dramatic thunderstorms followed between 5 and 8pm caused by powerful jet stream winds sucking damp air into the humid summer skies. This producing thunderstorm anvils 64,000 feet high creating the most remarkable free thunder and lightning show. More rain fell downtown yesterday afternoon than the normal monthly August average.

Chicago is no stranger to powerful thunderstorms, but generally they come overnight but judging by the television weathermen's gaiety last night, yesterday was something else!

Around 250,000 households in Chicago and northern Illinois are still without power today and some roads remain closed due to cleaning up of debris and flooded roads. Also the Chicago Tribune stated that 202 traffic lights were not working, 108 light poles were damaged, and a phenomenal 2,700 trees were felled or broken in the city. 500 flights were cancelled out of O'Hare airport.

And more of the same is forecast for later today too. 
Thursday 23 August 2007
  Tornado watch A bit of excitement in the office this afternoon as the tannoy burst into life accompanying sirens as we were told to leave our desks, move away from windows and walls and huddle in the core of the building as downtown Chicago was put under Tornado watch.

Leading up to this I was sat in my office as the partitioned walls creaked and groaned around me. Out of the window the rain sheeted down and lightning lit the dark sky. It was quite a sight.

For about half an hour we stood together in the middle of the floor as people cracked jokes and checked for service on their mobile phones, whilst our 83-story building (the 14th biggest in the world) got lashed around by 80-mile-an-hour winds.

Eventually our safety man broke the chatter and told us we could go back to work. Damn spoilsport.

Looking at the news elsewhere this afternoon in Chicago buildings collapsed, trees were uprooted, the air-traffic control tower at O'Hare was evacuated and funnel clouds were spotted. (more)

Don't think I'll be playing football tonight somehow. 
  Tennis, Horses, Baseball and a little respect Well that was my Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We were in Cincinnati Saturday at the ATP Masters, which is a prelude to the US Open at Flushing Meadows in a few weeks. We watched both semi-finals. Roger Federer struggled to overcome Leyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 in bright sunshine. I was surprised to see how pro-Hewitt the crowd were but despite being the better player on the day the Aussie still went down to the masterful Federer.

Later in the evening we saw a powerful performance from American James Blake who beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 6-2 in less than an hour. On Sunday Federer claimed his 50th career title when he demolished Blake in the final 6-1, 6-4.

The Lindner Family Tennis Center 25 miles outside of Cincinnati is unusual in that it is the only venue outside of the Grand Slams with more than two permanent stadiums. The arena holds around 20,000 and there was plenty of things to do around the courts to occupy the near sold-out crowd in between matches. We also watched the dominant pairing of the Bryan brothers win their doubles semi, but they surprisingly lost their final on Sunday.

On the Sunday, we took the opportunity to drive into Kentucky, a state known for its love of horses. The Kentucky Horse Park is a working stables, equestrian centre, home for retired thoroughbreds and musuem. Situated on 1,200 acres, visitors can amble around the beautiful fields with their freshly painted white fences.

The museum celebrates the history of the relationship between horses and humans as well as their role in sports. During the day the Park puts on plenty of activities and shows as well as showcasing some of the legendary champion horses that live on site, such as Cigar (right) considered to be one of greatest living race-horses of all time and my how happy the 27-year old looked in his retirement.

Whilst we were there the US Equestrian Federation Pony National Championships were taking place. We sat and watched skinny girls on top of beautiful ponies navigate jumps, whilst Mums fussed over their daughters and fathers discussed the Dow Jones crash.

Kentucky Horse Park is about an hour or so drive from Cincinnati and 10 miles from Lexington and is a nice way to spend a day if you have a love of these beautiful creatures.

Monday afternoon I was at Wrigley Field and after 5 innings the hot temperatures the midwest has been having finally gave way to terrific thunderstorms. Fortunately I was whooping it up in a box with as much lite beer and hot dogs as you could get down your neck. Chicago, at least half of it anyway, is slowly waking up to the fact that the Cubs may well reach the play-off's for the first time in 4 years. Although with 6 weeks to go in the season, it gives them plenty of time to suffer their familiar slump.

Then Tuesday night we were at Ravinia, which has been home to outdoor music festivals since the early 1900's. Ravinia Park is on the shores of Lake Michigan, just north of the city and outdoor concerts and performances are held every summer from June to September. This years acts include the Gypsy Kings, Tony Bennett (who we saw last year), BB King, Natalie Cole, Plácido Domingo, KD Lang and on Tuesday Aretha Franklin. There is no better way to spend a warm evening than sitting on the lawn in a beautiful park, eating a picnic, drinking wine and listening to 'The Queen Of Soul.'

(oo) What you want
(oo) Baby, I got
(oo) What you need
(oo) Do you know I got it?
(oo) All I'm askin'
(oo) Is for a little respect....
  Cincinnati, Ohio We found ourselves in Cincinnati last weekend because of the Tennis, not because of any desire to see the place but we did get some time to explore. The city itself isn't big (pop 300,000) but the commuter belt extends into what they call the tri-state area of south-west Ohio, northern Kentucky and the south-east of Ohio.

Cincy is one of America's oldest settlements and whilst downtown itself is reserved for business it is surrounded by pretty residential areas in three states - Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Most of the activity downtown is centered around Fountain Square, which has been the symbolic center of Cincinnati since 1871.

Today Fountain Square and the rest of the city is seeing a real influx of new development and private investment, specifically along the Ohio river. Both the Bengals (American football) and the Reds (baseball) play in brand new stadiums situated in acres of space along the riverfront, and the whole area has a feel of 'what could be' about it. More can be read on the plans for re-development here.

A place of interest is the multi-purpose U.S. Bank Arena, originally known as the Riverfront Coliseum. It is here Elvis did one of his final live performances before he died and it was also witness to 11 people dying in a crush at a Who concert in 1979. Today it is still a concert and sports arena.

The Ohio River is punctuated with some intriguing looking bridges. Tower Bridge lookalike, the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (top left) crosses into Covington, Kentucky. The yellow Daniel Carter Beard Bridge takes you into Newport, Kentucky as does the Newport Southbank Bridge, known locally as the Purple People Bridge which stretches 2,670 feet into Newport on the Levee, which is nice residential area with a purpose built restaurant and cinema complex. There is also an aquarium.

Walking around the leafy streets of Newport, you can't miss seeing or hearing the World Peace Bell, the largest swinging bell in the world weighing in at 73,381lb! It is said that the bell only rings on special occasions, but at midday on Sunday it was ringing loud and clear.

To get around a car is probably a necessity, there are buses, but I would guess infrequent as I only saw one when we were there. A new streetcar system is expected to be completed by 2009.

We did walk around Friday night, there wasn't a lot going on with many places closing once the office workers left for the 'burbs but we did came across a recommendable restaurant called Jeanro, but otherwise this is a probably not very high up on a list of must-see places in America, although equally I can think of plenty worse places to spend a weekend in this country. 
Tuesday 21 August 2007
  Injury news - "no comment" News of injuries these days down at The Valley is hard to find. For example do we know how Luke Varney is fairing with his ankle injury? Last we heard was that he was back in training and I would have thought we may have seen him play some part of tonight's reserve match against Leyton Orient, but no.

Then searching for clues of Yassin Moo2kil's injury following Saturday's game at Stoke is like trying to find an interesting quote from Steve McLaren! However a paragraph hidden in the Andy Reid Ireland story on the official site does tease us with:

"Scans on the ankle injury suffered by the right-back at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, that forced his substitution in the second half, have revealed there is no fracture, and he will be further assessed by the French medical team."

So I guess that's good news but come on Charlton, how about telling us what we want to know and not just pad the official site up with stories on brick laying and bus routes?

Update 4.30pm: As if by magic: "I have to confirm that we have lost Yassin for four or five weeks at least, and that is perhaps a bigger blow to come out of the Stoke game than the defeat," Alan Pardew in a very interesting interview on the OS assessing the first fortnight of the season. Read more here
Monday 20 August 2007
  Stoke City away. What was the score? Lost 2-1 I was disappointed with Saturday's result, not least because I actually thought we would use this game to show the rest of the league our intentions, but also because of my Stoke connections. My son's godfather is a Stokie, and I imagine that another stripey team kit is whiling its way down to Kent as I type!

I've had a couple of days to dwell on the result and it is early days and only Watford, who have kept a very settled side from the one that got relegated, have shown any kind of form plus Stoke, who I think will be in the mix this season, particularly due to their home form - two home defeats in 11 months. The others are still finding their feet and as we saw against Scunthorpe and will again this Saturday against Wednesday, superior skill and technical ability is not enough to win games.

Palace proved that you can be near the bottom at Christmas and still go up, but there are a number of reasons that a good start is important, and a good start should be viewed as 6-7 league games and not 2.

Pards has admitted he doesn't know his best team and I think that showed Saturday, with the team selection and then his substitutions. I hope Moo2kil's injury is not bad, but Sankofa should be able replacement. I actually thought we would start slowly and build and there is still enough for me to think that we will be happier in a months time.

Who was at The Brittania: Charlton Life.
Reports: Stoke City FC;; Telegraph; Mirror; Daily Mail; Guardian.
What Pards' said: "Stoke were like they always are, big, strong and powerful. At times we played round them but didn't capitalise."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Andy Reid. Showed he can be a class above everyone else in this league but needs people around him, who can deal with the physical aspects. 
Friday 17 August 2007
  Strategic Options Does anyone else question the timing of the announcement to seek a range of "strategic options" regarding the future of the clubs ownership? (more)

The club's frankly crap statement talks of further investment "from existing shareholders and/or new investors," but that is not what the appointed advisors Seymour Pierce have done previously in their work with football clubs. In the past Seymour Pierce have helped Roman Abramovich acquire Chelsea, Randy Lerner Aston Villa, The Egg-head to find love at West Ham and that nice bloke Shinawatra buy Man City.

Ever since the club delisted from AIM, this move was on the cards. The current directors own about 66% of the clubs shares, so a new buyer would only really need to convince them to sell without having to convince people like me and other individual owners.

The question that bugs me is the timing. Unless our finances are much worse than we believe, then after last season's harrowing experience, one would have thought that Pards, the players and the fans need a bit of stability under Murray and the board. What does Pards think about it, after what happened to him at West Ham?

What is Charlton worth now in the market? A hell of a lot less than it was previously when we were in the Premierhip obviously, but then again we do own two nice pieces of real estate. £50m for both?

So has Richard Murray decided to chuck it in? His reputation was rather soiled last season wasn't it? And can we blame him for wanting to move on?

Hopefully the review results in a further share issue, but from what I have read the city seems perplexed by the announcement as well. The whole thing does smell of the board looking for new owners, and whilst we rebuild on the pitch, yesterday's news just adds further uncertainty to the club, which is not what we need. 
  Memories of Stoke City Stoke City 1-0 Charlton, 4th April, 1994
There was a faint chance that we may of sneaked into the play-offs this season, and coming off the back of a rousing 4-3 victory over Southend two days earlier (a certain Alan Pardew scoring twice to celebrate the opening of the East Stand), my brother and I made a late decision to make the trip to the Potteries on Easter Monday for a first time visit to the Victoria Ground.

It was a bright, sunny morning when we left for the station and we were suitably dressed, my brother pushing his luck perhaps in a t-shirt but we were looking forward to the afternoon kick-off. About 600 Addicks made the journey, a lot of them on the train out of Euston. However as we travelled north the weather took a turn for the worse and snow started to fall as we hit the Midlands.

By the time we got off the train, the snow was falling heavily and it was bloody freezing. We all huddled together in a boozer by the station and I remember actually wanting a hot drink and not a beer. Rumours gathered pace amongst Charlton fans that the game would be postponed, in fact there were two pitch inspections and the pitch was only passed fit 40 minutes before kick-off.

The real abiding memory of the game was how extraordinarily cold it was. The result being almost secondary to the final whistle. We stood at what was the Stoke End, in front of seats, and the weather was atrocious.

Both Stoke and us had slim hopes of the play-off and on the evidence of that game, Stoke looked the more likely as they beat us comfortably 1-0. Mark Walters, who had only recently signed for City, ripped Sweaty Balmer to bits out on the left wing (he never was a right back was he?) and another Stoke new signing Micky Adams dominated our midfield. The Icelandic Toddy Orlygsson getting Stoke's winning goal in the 31st minute and I don't believe we even came close to getting an equaliser.

It was so cold that the final whistle couldn't come quick enough and it was finally a relief to walk to the station and get on the train to warm up.

The Victoria Ground was a classic large atmospheric, if decaying and often scary football ground with plenty of memories. Stoke left it in 1997 and moved to the Brittania Stadium, which was built on an old colliery. The stadium is particularly impressive in the evenings from the outside and I have driven by a few times as I used to have relatives in the area. Addicks fans tomorrow will be situated in the Big AM South Stand behind the goal. The Victoria Ground is sadly now just a derelict site.

Stoke: Prudhoe, Butler, Sandford, Cranson, Overson, Orlygsson (Glynn), Foley, Carruthers, Biggins, (Regis), Adams, Walters.
Sub not used: Straney
Charlton: Salmon, Balmer, Minto, Pardew, Chapple, McLeary, Garland (Grant), Bennett, Nelson, Gorman, Sturgess (Walsh).
Sub not used: Vaughan

Anyone else there? 
  Dickson to Crewe Raw talent Chris Dickson chose Crewe for his loan period, which will be initially for a month.

"There were four clubs that came in to take him on loan and he picked Crewe. We've had good dealings with them over the summer because of Luke Varney and we have a good relationship with them." Gillingham, Millwall and Southend were the three clubs that missed out on Chris. I, like others will be keeping an eye on Crewe's games, go for it Chris.

Yesterday evening we got drawn at home to Stockport County in the 2nd Round of the Carling Cup. The game will take place on August 28th.

Interesting to see that yesterday Alan Curbishley lost his cool over comments made by Paul Konchesky. Proving that Curbs doesn't respond well to criticism, he lashed out by threatening legal action and added "I don’t think the boy’s got any class." (more)

I am trying to work out if I can see Saturday's Stoke game on television in Cincinnati, where I will be for the ATP Tennis Masters. The game kicks off 12.20 Eastern Time. 
Wednesday 15 August 2007
  Ten things to do with a child in Chicago Chicago is a great place for children. Open spaces, museums, skyscrapers, and lots of free things to do and see. It's perfect to walk around although Chicago has outlying areas that are dangerous, the city itself is very safe. So after spending a couple of weeks out and about with a 7-year old, I thought I'd list the top 10 things to do if you ever get the chance to spend time with a child in the windy city. These are in no particular order.

1. Six Flags Great America
About a 60 minute drive from downtown Chicago. Six Flags is the only major theme park in the midwest and can get very busy. Pick a midweek summer's day. It's not cheap particularly if you are taking the whole family but there are plenty of rides, both for the white knucklers and the not so brave. The water park is excellent too and is very kid friendly. Entrance $40 for adults, $35 for children and free for the under 3's.

2. Jelly Belly Bean factory tour
Just a short drive north of Six Flags across the state border in Wisconsin. A modern factory opens it doors to an old company who hit the jackpot when they started mass-producing jelly beans. Take a train tour around the factory, get some freebies and then spend like crazy in the factory store. Entrance free.

3. Ed Debevic's
I love this place. Happy Days returns in this diner. The staff dress up, dance on the bar and are as rude as hell. Don't be offended it is all part of the experience. Friends' David Schwimmer used to be a waiter in here and most of the staff are fledgling actors. Open all day. Average cost less than $10 for a burger.

4. Navy Pier
3,300 feet long, originally consructed in 1916 and used by the US Navy during WWII. With its trademark Ferris Wheel and other rides plus theatre, children's museum, IMAX cinema, crazy golf and a host of lake viewing options to do by boat. Plenty of places to eat and drink too with live music most summer evenings. Entrance free.

5. Millennium Park
Built for the new millennium but not finished until 2004 hideously over-budget but my was it worth it. Described as one of the best open public spaces in the world, the park is definitely worth a wander to witness amazing post modern architecture that kids will appreciate too. It has a great cafe that doubles as an ice-rink in the winter. Entrance free.

6. Shedd Aquarium
The 2nd biggest indoor aquarium in the world and home to 2,100 species including beluga whales, dolphins and penguins. This beautiful building has been here since 1912 and is home to a Wild Reef exhibit which recreates a Philippine coral reef and a 2 million gallon Oceanarium, which is backed by a wall of windows that look out onto Lake Michigan. Entrance $25 for adults and $18 for kids.

7. A live American sports game
Whatever the season a visit to a baseball game, basketball match, a gridiron game (if you can get hold of a ticket) or even a MLS 'soccer' match is a must. I hate the whole Americanisation of sport but you got to give it to them, they do do it well. The great American pastime of Baseball or basketball (pro or college) in particular is a great thing to take kids to, even if the game and result are somewhat secondary to the razzamatazz. Tickets cost anything between $25 to $100 depending on seat and game.

8. Tall buildings
Chicago is home to some of the tallest buildings in the world, the tallest until Taiwan and Dubai got involved! You can visit the tops of both the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Building. Both have observation towers and the Sears has a mini museum too, although I prefer the Hancock, where you can have a decent bite to eat and a drink and see for over 80 miles and across 4 states. Breathtaking. Entrance is $12.95 for adults and $9.50 for kids at the Sears Tower Skydeck. The Hancock Observatory is $10 for adults and $6.50 for kids but the restaurant and bar are reasonable.

9. Lincoln Park Zoo
One of the only free zoo's in the country, situtated in the beautiful Lincoln Park, a few blocks from the lake. See gorillas, giraffes, lions, tigers, zebras and my favourites the polar bears. Plenty to eat and drink plus paddle boat rides, a carousel and a childrens train. Entrance free.

10. The Beach
Kids love the beach and Chicago’s very own ocean Lake Michigan, 118 miles in width has 28 miles of man-made beaches on the Illinois side, including a couple downtown. The lake is very swimmable and boasts the cleanest urban waterfront in the country. A preservation order means that no one can ever build close to the lake so the whole lakeside is open to the public. Paddle, swim, play volleyball or sit in the sun. Be careful though as it kind of goes in hiding in the winter, when the whole beach front and lake is covered by thick ice. Entrance is free including the beaches downtown but some on the north shore are private. 
Tuesday 14 August 2007
  Swindon away. What was the score? Won 2-0 Chalk that one up. A nice win, couple of goals, a clean sheet and a pen, I would like to think we might get a few more of those this season. Well done to Reidy for tucking it away, twice.

Ambrose got the other and it appears that Marcus Bent was again a real dominance in the match. Pards made 3 changes. Powell playing was not too much of a surprise and Todorov was rested, or shall we say dropped and replaced by Izale McLeod, who by all accounts did well. Whether Pards left Paddy McCarthy out because of his performance on Saturday or just to give Fortune a run out, I don't know but I wouldn't be shocked to see Fortune occupy a berth at The Brittania on Saturday. With his history there, it would be a good stage for him to stake a regular place.

As for me, of course the game didn't quite carry the stress levels of some of last season's games and hopefully some of this, but full marks to the official site for an improved game update service. I had the Sky Sports Score Centre open to get goal updates and then a mate rung me to let me know of Ambrose's goal and then my Mum text me at the final whistle. It was almost like being there!

Who was there:
Reports:; Swindon Town FC; Sporting Life; BBC Sport.
What Pards' said: "Marcus knows this is a big, big year for him and I thought he played well. We worked on him a bit yesterday and it paid dividends tonight. He was very unselfish on both occasions for the goals."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Marcus Bent. To be honest I'd have thought every year as a professional footballer is a big year, but it does look like the journeyman is finally up for it. 
  Office space After being out of the office for 3 weeks, enduring 4 transatlantic flights, running around with a 7-year old and spending what seemed the majority of the last weekend on the M25, being back at my desk this morning almost feels comforting.

I had an absolutely wonderful time with my son culminating with the Scunthorpe game. The weather at home and for the 2 weeks he was here was fantastic and I already miss him being around me 24 hours a day. I know I don't play the role of a conventional Dad and that is something I have to live with, but equally having 16 whole days together, just the two of us, is probably something most Dads don't have an opportunity to do.

Apart from a trip this weekend to Cincinnati to watch the Tennis Masters, a prelude to the US Open, the next few weeks see me in Chicago, which is a pleasing thought.

Later I will have a trial run of trying to keep up at with what is going on at an Addicks game, post internet commentary era, as we take on Swindon Town. Of course the Carling Cup is not high on our list of priorities this season, but team and confidence building is, so I hope we get a positive result. I hope those that are going don't get as wet as we did in 1998, when Steve Jones scored the winner. 
Monday 13 August 2007
  Scunthorpe at home. What was the score? Drew 1-1 I actually felt very upbeat after Saturday’s game. At times our football was very enjoyable to watch but then at other times it looked as if it was strangers getting to know each other, which had to be expected as did Scunny’s hard work, time-wasting tactics and strength at set-pieces. Lessons I am sure would have been learned.

Some of our play was of a very good quality, especially by Championship standards. I loved Moo2kil and I think Semedo showed a lot of promise for his first competitive match in England. Lloyd Sam was lively in the first half and Reid drove the game forward from a free role, although I feel he needs to do that from the middle of the park and not out wide. His tendency or was it his instructions to roam and come inside stifled our offensive options on the left, particularly with Thatcher having a real aversion to crossing the halfway line. Ambrose cannot take a game by the scruff of the neck like Reid can, and it will be interesting to see how Pards uses him, Reid, Semedo, ZZ, Thomas, Sam and Racon.

Weaver was comfortable and got a good reception from the Covered End and Bent played his most rousing game for a very long time in a Charlton shirt, even if he still has a lot to do to endear him to Addicks’ fans.

Todorov showed some nice skill but doesn’t look fit and Iwelumo was a handful when he came on. I think the jury’s out on McCarthy and Bougherra looks more of a midfielder in the Huddlestone roll than a centre-half and I think a new centre-half is a necessity as we look like we can be bullied by big sides and we’ll face a lot of them this season.

I enjoyed the game though and I thought the crowd was patient, which is good. Unlike Sheffield United fans who booed their side at half-time and again at full time.

All in all it was a tough initiation to the division. The refereeing was awful. The linesman flagging for offside at the goal and then confirming to the referee that it was not, was comical. Mr T Kettle (presumably from Typhoo, Norfolk) let a lot go in the first hour, which I anticipated - no rolling around here like you’ve been shot - but then late on he blew for everything. Very inconsistent

Scunny at times were very poor, but at other times dangerous if allowed to play to their strengths and their time-wasting was scandalous. Their fans, who came on mass, cheered a throw-in like they had scored and their goal like it was the winner of the FA Cup final. But again, something we need to get used too.

All in all though I feel good about our chances particularly if we can wipe away the memories of almost 2 years of cronic away form in the next week.

Who else was there: New York Addick; Roehampton Addick; Many Miles; All Quiet; Addick's Championship Diary.
Reports:; Telegraph; Guardian; The Times.
What Pards' said: "The important thing for us is that we react well to the disappointment. We're not overly disappointed, although of course we would have liked to have won, but we have to react on Tuesday and react next week."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Yassin Moo2kil. A new hero, a marvellous introduction to the red army.
  Valley irritants It was great to be back at The Valley on Saturday. A lovely day, enjoying a few pints with family and friends plus a good catch up with New York Addick and watching the beginnings of a new era but it seems there is aways an irritant with Charlton.

The bloke with the mic on the pitch, Peter Nuttall is it, doesn't actually bother me much, mainly because I normally time my arrival at my seat as the players come on, or perhaps it's that I've been in America too long, and am used to his kind of infantile cheerleading.

But three things pissed me off on Saturday and neither on them were wearing a red shirt. Whether it's cost cutting, bad planning or just the same old Charlton I don't know but selling out of programmes an hour before kick off was a real clanger, particularly with a brand new team to read about and a much-vaulted handbook inside. After all the club pretty much knew down to the 100's how many people were going to be in the ground. I wonder if they plan to run another print run, or is that another unjustified expense?

Then unless you are happy to miss the last 10 minutes of the first-half the likelihood of getting a pint and a pie at half-time is zero and despite it being August and the potential for sun, the same as it's always been apparently and I'm not even as clever as Al Gore, behind the Covered End they ran out of bottles of water. Of course you had to get to the front of the queue to find that out.

On the beer thing, isn't it about time we started serving plastic bottles of beer, instead of pouring them one at a time? Or perhaps they could pre-pour a few, give those that work down there something to do for 45 minutes.

And lastly that scoreboard with it's rather fetching Ariel font. Sorry but I reckon most of us are able to keep track of the score, although the notification of the goalscorer could have been a bit quicker. But blimey no clock, no teams, no half-times, is it worth it? Bring back the alphabetical boards along the side of the pitch. Oh hang on, we need to be able to buy a programme for that to work!

Please Charlton, are we really this poor? 
Friday 10 August 2007
  A new dawn for new heroes It's here, I'm here, so lets get this whole thing started shall we? For those of us that were bored of scrapping to 40 points and then playing crap for 2 months, or worried about how many goals Arsenal were going to score against us, or just disillusioned by the ever uglier and corrupt Premiership crawling up its own arse, then welcome to the Championship, aka the Fizzy Pops.

A programme with that must have 'official handbook' will have to be a must tomorrow, even at £5 because none of us will have any idea who our players are. I can just about remember what Andy Reid looks like and whose that bloke throwing his arms up in the air at the mouth of the players tunnel? He looks familiar.

13 new players, with the newest one having a medical today, but hopefully not by the same bloke who gave a medical to Cory Gibbs.

So which players out of the 13 will really make a difference. Good words are being said of the young French right back, Moo2kil as he will be known on my keyboard and Jose Semedo, who has settled nicely into the troublesome holding midfield roll.

ZZ was a nice little gift from the East wasn't it? That has given us all a buzz. Nicky Weaver's signing just gave me the hump, but I've got a short memory like the next bloke and if we are to succeed this season, he will have to be massive for us. Give him another pie and by the way lets get behind the lad because you know he has the personality to respond to it.

There are three other youngsters in the squad, one has shown well in the friendlies and could most definitely be a valuable bench weapon - Martin Christensen and the other two Mikkel Rygaard Jensen and the very promising but raw Chris Dickson are expected to get some loan action. I do think Dickson will have some kind of say in our season though.

Dean Sinclair adds a bit of old fashioned up and down hard work to the midfield, a kind of dirty shorted Matt Holland.

A very important player for us will be Paddy McCarthy, who will be a regular at the back, but his knowledge of the division will be a big advantage and his style is very much the opposite to Bougherra.

Then there is a fleece of strikers, no fewer than 9 players can play up front. Marcus Bent's still there, yep sorry if you missed that, although if he can be bothered or coached he surely should be a threat in this division. My prediction is that he will go in the January window.

New signings Iwelumo, Varney and McLeod will all be hungry and each has potential to have their names sung from the Valley rafters. And Pards seems more excited by the free-signing of Todorov than most of us.

However for me a couple of 'old boys' will make all the difference this year. A fit and focused Andy Reid and Jerome Thomas in my humble windy city opinion (with no internet commentary) will murder this division. Darren Ambrose is on a make or break season too.

Its a big squad and Pards, as he has said, builds teams. Well with 13 in and 16 out plus two already off on loan he has certainly been busy with that shovel.

So who are our rivals? Wolves have under Mick McCarthy built well the last two seasons. Martin Allen at Leicester has done what we have, and signed 12 new players bu they do include Kish and Shaun Newton. Hmm, and come on, is Allen a better manager than Pardew?

I think the Baggies have made some good signings but with one eye on their last year of the parachute payments they have also sold some of their best and more expensive players. Southampton have also seen their most influential playes depart with Kenwyne Jones likely to be next. Sheffield Wednesday's fans will be confident of a good season, as will Stoke's. Cardiff fans now live in a house owned by Robbie Fowler, rather them than us, and Preston are always there challenging.

Our biggest threat will come from fellow relegated sides Watford and Sheffield United. Watford have had little turnover, just like us last time we came down, but the Blades have had a tumultuous summer with the Tevez saga but have spent big on attacking players. Come May we will know who was the better signing. Varney or Billy Sharp.

I plan this season to pre-empt games with some memories of previous matches against our Championship opponents. To some fans there will be some strange names and places in this division, to others it will be a return to a place that many of us thought we would never escape. For example we played Barnsley almost every season through the 80's and 90's but haven't met them for 8 years. I for one was pleased they stayed up so our younger fraternity can witness one of the coldest bloody grounds in the country!

However Scunthorpe United is a new one on me, Charlton have never met them in my time as a supporter and perhaps last season's League One champs are not the ideal opponents for our first game but it is one for the 'romantics' and as Pards has been anxious to point out a good time to park our collective egos at the door. Hopefully we can pick them back up again in 12 months!

Scunthorpe tomorrow reminds me of a cup game, that's not good knowing our record but this is what we will face most weeks, like Pards said extra quality will only get you so far. Resilence and commitment will win us as many points.

It will be very strange to be considered to be the league's 'big boys,' the title favourites and the team that everyone wants to beat. We have never been favourites for anything in our lives. Little old Charlton no more, although lets face it, we were never anything more in our eyes, were we? Despite what the record books say and what we sung to that miserable Palarse lot?

To me Wolves fans and Sheffield Wednesday fans will always think they are a bigger club than Charlton. I know, its funny isn't it? But what I remember from this division is the equality. If you get 25,000 or 6,000 or have a super new stadium or a rusty old one, it does not matter and ego's in this division will get us nowhere but togetherness, patience and hunger will.

I am truly looking forward to this season. I will be at The Valley Saturday and hope to get to more games this season, particularly some away ones. Of course I won't be the only football fan hoping for great things as the curtain raises tomorrow, but then again Charlton isn't any club and with Pardew at the helm and with the squad he has assembled, we have every reason for optimism.

It was the hope that killed us at the end of the last season. It could be the expectation this, but its a new exciting beginning and a time for new heroes. Come on you Addicks. 
  Lucky 13 A midfielder? What do we need a midfielder for? Surely its a forward we need. Therry Norbert Racon was having a medical today and will become Pards 13th summer signing. He currently plays in Ligue 2 with Guingcamp and will cost €550,000. I don't know, both Semedo and Moot2kil have come out of pre-season with a lot of credit so lets hope that Pards French connection does it again. Racon is slightly older at 23.

Meanwhile 18 year-old defender Mark Staunton has moved to Falkirk for nothing after Dowie bought him from Celtic just a year ago for £100,000. Another 100 grand down the swanny. Falkirk's youth academy is run by former Addick's coach Eddie May. 
Thursday 9 August 2007
  Strike a light I said before that Pards does like a striker. He had about 12 at West Ham the year they got promoted and today he added two more to our squad. Izale McLeod wasn't a surprise as we knew he was having a medical yesterday. The 22-year old will cost an intial £1.1m, rising to £1.55m depending on us getting into the champions league in 3 years *smiley thing*

McLeod scored 60 goals in 135 appearances for Franchise FC, for who he signed at the very beginning of their controversial beginnings. His first club Derby will receive a large chunk of the £1.1m, a good sign the Rams saw potential in him when they let him go as an 18-year old.

And what about ZZ eh? I didn't see that one coming. In fact I only linked to a story yesterday that told of his chances now returning to England being slim. Well, about as slim as big helping of egg fried rice, as the Chinese superstar strolled back into The Valley today for £2m.

ZZ was exceptionally popular with fans, for his workrate if nothing else and his versatility will add real value to the squad and adds another player that should be quality in our division.

Shame that those millions of football mad Chinese won't be able to listen in on the internet commentaries, but that's another story.

The sad thing was the final departure of Souleymane Diawara. He had a tough start but who didn't under Dowie. Under three managers and a number of coaches he did take a while to adjust to the pace of the Premiership but remember his English was poor and then the chairman, for which he should always be embarrased, slammed him in public.

But the 2nd half of the season under Pardew he improved immensely and showed his class. I think he was our best centre-half since Rufus and perhaps under different circumstances would of gone on and been a real cult hero.

Pards blast at his crummy agent and positive comments towards Diawara say it all for me.

So that is now 11 players in and 15 out plus two on loan (Basey to Brentford and Youga to Scunthorpe). Quite a turnaround. I think with Semedo being a natural centre-half and Faye's (perhaps better) ability to play there, I reckon Pards thinks he needs just one more player, and that is Hayden Mullins.

And what about the forwards - Varney, Bent, Todorov, Iwelumo, Dickson, Walker, McLeod, Zheng and Sam can all play there. Bring it on.

"I'm going to rebuild this team around the philosophy that I carry.... and that's a game played in the truest sense, to a high tempo, with movement and quality that will give us an advantage." (more
Wednesday 8 August 2007
  Well, that's it then I know I made my bed and all that and gave up almost 30 years of going to every home game and many aways by moving abroad but American television has been good to supporters of Premiership clubs, improving their coverage of games year upon year since I arrived here at the end of 2004.

Getting relegated was a bitter pill, made the more sickly by the now limited television coverage of our games in the US. One live game a week I think for Championship games on Setanta, which means a trip to the pub.

But now, which I guess I should have seen coming, CAFC have pulled the live website commentaries. "Under Football League rules, in order for the club to stream radio commentaries and match highlights on our official website, we would have needed to enter into a license agreement with Football League Interactive, the division of The Football League that controls such matters." (more)

And rightly so the club won't buckle and give up their website independence or compromise their agreement with the BBC and hand it all over to crappy Premium TV, who manage all the rights.

But hang on where does this leave all us overseas Addicks? No bloody International Supporters Club, no commentaries, not a jot. My apologies to all of those nice Chinese people who became fans after our tour and the signing of Zheng Zhi but what about us? Disaster.

How else am I going to while away my nervous energy on a Saturday morning? Not by watching the website waiting for "in-game updates." You know 24mins: Corner to Colchester United. 38mins: Shot saved from Matt Holland. Wow. Then of course we have the BBC text service, er I would rather stick tooth picks in my eyes than do that for 40 odd games.

And of course it is not just overseas fans but those who live outside the BBC London and Kent airwaves. All those new fans that we bus in on Valley Express for example. Cheers.

I suppose it might improve away support or perhaps it gives disenchanted fans their lives back, but it pretty much ruins mine.

Ok, I have just read this thread on Charlton Life. Enlightning as always. I really don't want to give my money to poxy Premium TV either but I tell you, I can't live without some kind of knowing what the bloody hell is going on for 90 minutes.

I will look into this more and it seems others will on Charlton Life too. If I have to I'll suppose I will have to have some northern monkey commentating on the Addicks during the season, if that is what the other clubs websites provide. On second thoughts, I used to hate the biased commentary on BBC London and Steve Brown, who never did let me down in a red shirt, did start to grate.

Help! If anyone else got any ideas then please leave a comment. 
  McLeod to join There I was just about to go to bed and dream of 11 red gods when I was thinking that its getting a bit late in the week for any new signings and all we have is Diawara throwing a big huff.

But hang on, tomorrow's Daily Telegraph has us down as completing the signing of 22-year old Izale McLeod from MK Franchise. 54 goals in 116 appearances for them, I'll have a little piece of that. Goodnight and sweet dreams. 
Sunday 5 August 2007
  All smoke and no Fire We went along to the Chicago Fire v Columbus Crew game last night and frankly you will find better quality at Hackney Marshes on a Sunday morning. I have seen a number of MLS games live and even more on the box and how anyone can compare it to the Championship is beyond me, at it's very best it maybe League One, sorry Division 3 but that is about it. As Becks sits at home nursing his ankle he must wonder if he came to Soccer in the States too early. The MLS is most definitely not going to help him sustain his England place.

Fire's new stadium at Bridgeview is by comparison a quality venue, and last night with Mexican 'superstar' Cuauhtémoc Blanco making his home league debut in Fire colours the 20,358 who turned up deserved better, particularly from Blanco himself, who at the risk of offending my Mexican readers was bloody awful and the performance of the overweight and hunchbacked 34-year old, who spent the entire game 'drawing fouls' and rolling on the floor, stunk of someone who is only here for the $$$$.

The game ended scoreless, despite the most recent Chicago signing Paulo Wanchope (yes, one and the same) almost winning it near the end. My son still enjoyed it "even if it wasn't Charlton," but the pre-game fireworks, the announcements in Spanish and being served food and drink in your seat all added to the 'American soccer feel.'

Meanwhile this morning my own Sunday morning team swept to our league's title by winning 5-0. I even managed to score twice, which put me up there with my son's favourite player just behind Yassin Moutaouakil. 
Saturday 4 August 2007
  Nothing to Braga about The result was secondary or thirdary, if that is actually a word, today. The team, it's formation and what Pards said afterwards will give us many more clues than a pre-season defeat to Sporting Braga.

Weaver will obviously be the owner of the goalie's gloves and young Frenchman Yassin Moutaouakil, who has been getting rave reviews and whom my son has installed as his new favourite player will start at fullback alongside Thatcher. However the middle two will take some twists and turns this week. McCarthy seems sure to start, but with Pards suggesting that Fortune will stay and fight for his place and Diawara's move to Bordeaux still up in the air, "He's having some difficult decisions to make and we'll see how that progresses but at the moment he's certainly not going anywhere." So Paddy's partner on Saturday is anyone's guess with Bougherra getting the nod today and having a good game by all accounts.

The influx of young Premiership loan stars winding their way down Harvey Gardens has not happened although a 18-year old Chelsea centre-half called Harry Worley got 20 odd minutes today. Chelsea beat off a number of other big clubs to tempt him from Stockport County two years ago so we will see where that ends up.

The midfield is still a concern, although Pards is playing patience at getting another one in, this despite Holland's shock cartilage operation. As a side-note wouldn't it be nice if the club were a bit more upfront on the injuries?

Holland picked up an injury from who knows where? Luke Varney we assume will miss the opening games of the season. What is wrong with Sankofa and is Cory Gibbs a figment of our imagination?

Back to the midfield. I presume that Pardew is still insistent on signing Mullins but will play a waiting game. Thomas was nowhere to be seen today but Pardew stopped tongues wagging by announcing that he was committed to the club for the season. He will surely start Saturday, and the question is does Ambrose or Reid fill the central spot alongside Semedo, who has made the holding role his own in pre-season. Then will one of Ambrose or Reid play wide or as neither of them are natural wingers does Pards put in Sam or Christensen for much needed width to serve the big strikers.

Pardew made Reidy captain today, which although not confirmed kind of gave us a clue to what the manager is thinking, although without an obvious first-team leader and given Reid's injury problems, this could change. Mullins would be Pards number one choice for captain if he gets his man I am sure.

Up front Todorov has struggled with fitness and Bent has seemingly once again struggled for zeal. Dickson has looked the most notable but I don't expect that the raw youngster will start against Scunny. That leaves a new signing and personally I would prefer an up and coming Championship or League One player than a 35-year old Premiership one. Call it the Jimmy Floyd factor if you like.

Seven days and counting.... 
Wednesday 1 August 2007
  Diawara staying is vital to our hopes The weather is up in the mid-90's in Chicago and my son and I are enjoying ourselves in the sweltering heat and the new barbie's getting a good going over too. I remember my old one back in Kent and it rusting before we got good use out of it, no chance of that here.

The season is now just 9 days away but the transfer window has another month to travel. Pards came out and said two things that caught my eye the last few days. One was that he hoped to bring in two more players, ones "who carry experience." No sign of those yet although Kieron Dyer's imminent £6m move to West Ham may well open the door for us to snatch Hayden Mullins, although his Premiership wages appear a stumbling block. A striker still looks a good possibility especially with Varney, Dickson and Bent all injured. Andy, you can call me Andrew, Cole is the latest name doing the rounds.

Super Al also stuck his head on the block and said that "everyone I want for this season's Championship challenge will now stay." However rumours persist that Bordeaux are stalking Souleymane Diawara, but will not match what we paid for him 12 months ago. Now I wouldn't necessarily blame Diawara if he went back to Ligue 1 but I think we will be a lot lesser of a side without him. I understand he has been very commanding at the back during the friendlies and a number one starter, although interestingly he sat on the bench tonight at Aldershot.

I rate him and think he will be the best defender in the fizzy's, locked on. I hope he stays, at least for a season, and although he's probably now the highest paid player at the club, a certain Mr Murray should be staring at his own navel if Diawara's agent engineers him a move away from The Valley at a big monetary loss because the financial benefits of keeping the Frenchman could be far more valuable.

To throw another curved ball (sorry that is a baseball phrase that I've said a lot recently, even my son has started saying it) into the defensive mix is the story that Stoke have offered £400,000 for Jon Fortune. I would think if Diawara stays this would more likely be a loan deal and would join the likes of Dickson and Sam getting some game time elsewhere. 
About Me
After living in Chicago for four and a half years, I moved to the beautiful if bewildering island of Bermuda in July 2008. This blog is about being an exiled and depressed Charlton Athletic fan and whatever else the day brings.
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