Ipswich Away Should Be Fun - Notes for Charlton
Tuesday, 30th Dec 2014 09:30 by HarryFromBath
HarryfromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Tuesday's game by delving into their forums.
"Supporting Charlton is like having a plain, slightly dull, stuck-in-a-rut missus. Then she comes in looking stunning, bright, vivacious and sexy, and you fall in love with over all over again. Magic", "Another day at the basket case that is the Valley - what would we do without it?"
Three draws and an error-strewn defeat at Blackburn have seen Charlton drift down to mid-table since our last-gasp win at the Valley last month. The fans mood lifted after their Boxing Day draw with Cardiff, in which they ran the second half despite being a goal and a man down at half-time.
"While not an impossibility, the play-offs are looking more and more distant by the game. We need to take a deep breath, chill out and see where the rest of the season takes us", "This was always going to be a season of learning, transition and building. Next season is where the party is at."
Blackburn 2 – 0 Charlton
"Ee aye, ee aye, ee aye, oh, down the Football League we go", "We were the masters of our own downfall with a crazy first 20 minutes with two very poor mistakes", "Blackburn are pressurising us when we are in possession and we have no composure", "It was play-off chasers against a mid-table team."
This game was effectively over in the first 20 minutes when defensive errors, including a poor pass from keeper Nick Pope, saw Rovers coast to a two-goal lead. Pope was dropped after this game. "We were lethargic, careless, seldom able to get possession and unable to keep it when we did."
"There is nothing stopping a well-drilled team from pushing us as far as possible up the pitch when we have the ball, because there is no risk of us either going long of passing the ball through them", "We were caught cold by opposition players who were glued to our players."
"We were like rabbits in headlights in the first 20 minutes. We could barely control the ball, let alone pass it. That said, Blackburn's work-rate was exemplary. They were more physical and it was game, set and match midway through the first half", "What a depressing day out."
Charlton 1 – 1 Cardiff
"How can there be anything positive drawn from that first-half performance?" "Approaching half-time, my mate asked if I wanted hot Bovril. I said, ‘No, but if they have got any poison, I'll have some'. It was that bad", "In the first half, we looked like a makeshift team with no goals in it."
The Addicks conceded an early Tom Adeyemi goal from a throw-in and things went from bad to worse when Callum Harriott was dismissed for a poor challenge before the break. Then came the fightback. "That was a thoroughly entertaining game, and hopefully something for us to build on."
"I haven't missed a game for five years and I cannot recall one like this to stir the blood. It had it all", "We battled back to win against the anti-football Bluebirds", "The second half was surreal. It was bonkers stuff", "It had more drama than an EastEnders Christmas Special", "It felt like a win."
"Bob may have found his way forward through chance today", "The change at the back worked brilliantly and gave us licence to go forward", "Is it a turning point to see our season get back on track? Here's hoping." It will be interesting to see how Charlton line up after Friday's turn around.
EtheridgeSollyBen HaimBikeyCousinsJackson (c)GudmundssonGomezTucudeanBuyensHarriott
Charlton's starting XI had rookie right-back Joe Gomez playing at left-back and Johnnie Jackson back for his first game after a calf injury. The structure was rigid with no width, George Tucudean isolated and Jackson not fully match-fit. Cardiff pressed hard and the Addicks couldn't establish a rhythm.
EtheridgeSollyBen HaimBikeyOnyewuBuyensGudmundssonCousinsVetokeleTucudean(Harriott sent off)
"Credit to Bob for making some big calls and changing it up. Going with two at the front and three at the back with 10 men is bold, but it worked very well." With an hour gone, Peeters withdrew the struggling Gomez and Jackson and switched to 3-4-2, bringing on Oguchi Onyewu and Igor Vetokele.
The positional switches were just as crucial to the change of momentum. With Onyewu on as a third centre-back, Ben Haim was able to bomb forward and link with the midfielders. Solly and Cousins added width, whereas Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Harriott had been narrow and playing on the wrong flank.
Gudmundsson was transformed, taking over the role of playmaker from the ineffective Jackson. He had a "storming" second half, dictating play and scoring an outstanding late equaliser. "JBG was stealing a living in the first half. I couldn't believe it as the same player after the break."
Tucudean's link-play and effectiveness was greatly increased by having Vetokele as a strike partner, the Angolan's pace stretching the Bluebirds defence and creating room. Despite being a man short, Charlton were effectively two men stronger as at least three players were freed up by the changes.
"I admire Bob's ethos of playing the ball out from the back, but we don't have the personnel to play that way. We have too many players who lack composure on the ball under pressure. The opposition press right up the field and we make mistakes which lead to goals."
"I have two messages for Bob. The first is well done for the brilliant management of 10 men. Secondly, take the shackles off this this team and let them play like you did in the second half yesterday. You have some fine footballers in that team. Let them express themselves."
Fans have been critical of the manager's cautious and defensive mentality and also his habit of playing men out of position in recent games. "He needs to be proactive and not just react as the game unfolds", "Some pressing would be nice instead of sitting back and soaking up pressure."
His supporters want everyone to keep their perspective. "Peeters is doing all right. We are not a team in free-fall. We saw that we have the quality to control and dominate games when we are assertive", "He has done wonders with a small squad and kept the ship steady."
Juggling a Small Squad
"Bob has a group of honest professionals who lack Championship experience as a whole. We have been hit by a dearth of options, as we have a small squad which has been hit by injuries to key players", "January can't come soon enough", "Squad strengthening is absolutely vital."
Charlton's squad was hit last month in midfield with an injury to Jackson and the sudden recall of Arsenal loan signing Francis Coquelin. "We went from a team with one obvious shortfall to a team with so many shortfalls all over the pitch that it's difficult to know where the problem lies".
"There is a small problem with our inability to play for 90 minutes especially with Ipswich ahead", "After the awful display at Blackburn, this was an encouraging improvement, but we still have the problem of not playing well for the full 90 minutes", "We cannot change things from the bench."
"The goals we have been conceding at the moment are from mistakes. They are absolute gifts to the opposition. Cutting these out is vital if we are to remain mid-table", "Knowing that there's no way back if we concede is getting to the defence", "There is a lack of concentration at the back."
With former Ipswich loanee Stephen Henderson injured and Nick Pope dropped, 24-year-old Neil Etheridge made his debut against the Bluebirds. "I thought he really commanded his area well. There was nothing he could do for the goal", "A decent debut - he came when he could for the ball."
Etheridge was signed on a short-term loan deal from Oldham. The Philippines international "was quick to mop up and this allowed the centre-backs to squeeze play up the pitch", "His distribution was quick and we've been crying out for that", "He did well and knows how to catch a ball."
"We all know Nick Pope is a good shot-stopper. It's just everything else in his game that he's very, very weak in", "It feels like it is a year early for him", "He played a suicide ball to Jordan Cousins who was swamped with Rovers players", "He had a nightmare, coming out to claim the ball, but dropping it."
The 22-year-old former Ipswich academy keeper's "confidence seemed shattered from the start. Blackburn's support had the knife in every time the ball went near him and you could actually see the pressure getting to him", "I feel sympathy for Pope. He's young but we can't gift points away."
Full-Backs and Centre-Backs
"It's only taken Peeters four games to realise that Morgan Fox isn't any good." The 21-year-old, who was also with the Town academy before being released when 11, was also dropped after the Blackburn defeat when he was substituted after 30 minutes. "He struggled against Alex Baptiste", "He flaps under pressure", "He needs to be pulled put before we destroy him."
Joe Gomez played at left-back in the Addicks' poor first half on Boxing Day. "I will love watching his career develop, but Kenwyne Jones had him in his pocket today", "He did his best but has no left foot", "Having the right-footed Cousins in front didn't help", "He's too hesitant coming forward."
The 17-year-old youth product "is a good lad. The more I see Gomez, the more I like his style", "He's as strong as an ox, but is no left-back", "He was getting beaten for pace by Adeyemi", "He was caught off balance for Cardiff's goal", "A class act and was out of position, but his naivety showed."
"Oguchi Onyewu is another beast at the back." The 32-year-old former Owl and USA international "has no pace but is a skilful player", "Pace is not his game, but passing ability and strength are", "He looked a little rusty but did his job well in our revised shape", "I liked our first look at him."
"Onyewu looked calm on the ball and looked to find a pass rather than playing a percentage risky ball or a hoof. He struggled for pace with the odd one-on-one", "He looked a bit ungainly but did well with things", "He freed up Ben Haim to push forward a bit", "His throw-in is a real weapon."
"Andre Bikey was very ropey until the last 30 minutes, when he became a different player." The 29-year-old former Middlesbrough centre-back "seems to be in a dip of form of late but is still solid enough", "He's a monster and a grafter", "The change to three at the back suited him well."
"It was much better from Bikey today [against Cardiff]. The got off the ground to win headers and used the ball well", "He had some stupid moments in the first half, real amateur stuff", "He had the usual mad five minutes, but was dominant in the air", "He's never boring to watch."
"Tal Ben Haim had a very good game with great interceptions and runs", "At times he was our best midfielder breaking forward", "Boxing Day was a masterclass from a very talented player. I wish we had two of him, one to play at the back and one in midfield", "He's the artful dodger of defending."
The 32-year-old former QPR centre-half "is brilliant at bringing the ball out from the back", "He led the second half charge with superb trademark breaks out of defence", "His ability to find players with a pass is excellent", "The weight on his passes were near perfect", "He was a rock today."
"Chris does exactly what it says on the tin. The Cardiff game was a classic Solly display. He's solid defensively and a threat going forward", "He drove the team forward and I loved him bombing on", "He was good as a wing-back in the second half, but I still prefer him as a right-back."
Addicks were baffled when the 23-year-old youth product was moved to central midfield. "He was lost there. We played very poorly against a poor Blackpool side", "He's okay in midfield, but f***ing outstanding at right-back", "Unless there is a need to play him in midfield, keep him in defence."
He was also switched to left-back against Blackburn, replacing the struggling Fox. "Perhaps we should play him in goal or up front?", "He was better when moved to left-back from midfield, but Rovers knew they only had to get him on his wrong foot", "He's the best right-back in the league."
"We have struggled to switch from slow to high tempo one and two-touch passing. Our forwards are too static and our midfielders are often too static to recognise the chink of light and move the ball in this direction. By all means pass the ball, but pass it faster, earlier and forward more often."
"How often has our lack of a creative midfielder been highlighted? Coquelin could have made all the difference against Blackburn, but that boat has sailed off down the Thames", "The midfielders were ragged and out of shape most of the time. This allowed Blackburn to find space between the lines."
"Yoni Buyens keeps playing backwards. His wayward passes would have cost us against a team that actually wanted to win the game, unlike Cardiff who were a disgrace", "He takes too long on the ball and slows the pace of our game down", "He always make himself available with his positioning."
The 26-year-old Standard Liege loan signing "can be a liability when getting caught in possession in dangerous areas", "Buyens is such a good player when we actually attack", "He keeps play ticking over", "He's calmness personified, sometimes to the point of shredding any nerves I have left."
"We'll be fine. Johnnie Jackson is back." The 32-year-old made a welcome return from injury against Cardiff, but played for just an hour. "He didn't do a lot during his cameo. He looked tired too, and is not match fit", "He was anonymous throughout", "Things were better when JJ was taken off."
Johann Berg Gudmundsson
"Stunning – that was a simply stunning hit by JBG. It was 30 yards out and no keeper was stopping that", "He was man of the match once he replaced Jackson in the centre", "Cardiff couldn't handle him. He caused them all sorts of problems, pushing everyone forward and taking the game to them."
Not everyone has been enamoured with the 24-year-old Iceland international and former AZ winger. "He plays when he can be bothered", "His first half was shocking. His second half was awesome", "He is not a defensively disciplined player and it doesn't make sense to change him into one."
"JBG was causing all kinds of havoc before his absolutely stunning goal." Several Addicks wanted him moved to a playmaker's role in the Blackburn game. "I felt sorry for him. He was the only player who looked like unlocking them", "He's our only creative player now Coquelin is gone."
"We were beating Blackpool 2-1 with 35 minutes left [the game ended 2-2]. We had lots of forward possession in wide areas and approaching the box and we turned backwards",
"Our set-up has two wide players on the wrong side cutting in, but we need quality full-backs to provide the width."
"Callum Harriott gets sent off. He studded their player. Idiot." The 20-year-old youth product "was warned by the referee to calm down five minutes earlier", "If his first touch wasn't so poor, he'd still be on." Their Boxing Day referee was widely criticised by Addicks, but the red card decision was not.
"Jordan Cousins lacks confidence out of position. His control of the ball has been poor recently and he was bullied off the ball today by Cardiff's right-back." The 20-year-old youth product "is full of drive and energy. Not everything comes off for him, but never hides", "He can be too predictable."
"I believe the left flank suits him, as he protects his full-back", "Cousins is a great team player but can be frustrating at times", "He is not a natural left-sided player. He kept cutting in on his right to open up a bit of space", "He was good as a left wing-back in the second half, and stuck at it."
"I'm getting pissed off big time. Other teams have goals in them. We don't", "We can't keep the ball in the final third", "We don't have an out ball. Our players lack movement to offer an option and we don't have the strength of runners in the channels to hit it long if no short pass is available."
Addicks are crying out for more striking options in the squad. "We absolutely have to get more fire-power in to ensure we don't slip down towards the strugglers", "At no time was there a goal threat in our team, whereas Blackburn looked like they had at least three players who could score."
"I think we saw the best of George today", "It was a superb performance and one of his better games", "He never seems to do the obvious but we looked dangerous today when he got involved", "His link play is inventive. He likes trying one and two touch lay-offs and flicks to unsettle defences."
The 23-year-old former Dinamo Bucharest forward "still lacks composure and could respond more quickly in the box", "His work-rate is second to none", "He was all over the pitch in a good way", "He brings others into the game", "At least he has imagination even if it doesn't always come off."
Addicks were happy with his performance on Friday, but feel he has areas which need improving. "There's a very good player dying to get out of him but there's sometimes a really crap one", "His touch is good, but his aerial ability, pace and decision-making can be questioned."
"Please Bob, play Igor and George up front together for a couple of games", "He came alive when he had support from Igor", "The link play between them was brilliant", "He was much better and more dangerous", "His lay-offs were sublime. Now he needs to play as well in away games."
"Igor changed the game. Cardiff were scared of him and he should have won the game at the death." The 22-year-old ex-FC Copenhagen striker "looked bright and creative, but cannot finish one-on-ones. That is a real weakness and will stop him making the step up if he doesn't sort it out."
"Igor looked much brighter for not having started", "Vetokele started running at a defence which hadn't been tested in the game." The striker played a crucial role in changing the pattern of the game, but his glaring miss at the death was unforgettable. "He was clean through and hit it over."
Some fans are losing patience. "Ten seconds after that miss the referee peeped for full time. Igor slumped to the ground, disbelieving, distraught. Their keeper and our players stooped to console him. My mate, who has been watching Charlton since 1958, turned to me and said, ‘Bury him'."
Addicks' Views on ITFC and the Game
"A win at Ipswich would be massive", "I can't see anything other than a defeat. Unless Ipswich have an off-day, it will be 2-0 to the Tractor Boys", "3-0 to Ipswich - a point will be a miracle", "That was a fantastic result by Ipswich at Brentford. It will be comfortable 2-0 home victory."
Summing up prediction polls, 59% of Addicks expect a home win compared to just 17% forecasting an away victory. A 2-0 home win and 1-1 draw are the most popular scores. Every Charlton win prediction so far is for a snatched 1-0 while over 50% expect us to keep a clean sheet.
"Our home defeat to Ipswich was probably one of our best performances this season. We wasted plenty of chances to keep all three points in South East London. Sadly Ipswich took them back to Suffolk with a last-minute winner from Noel Hunt", "They are a very good attacking team."
Their optimists are all on the same hymn-sheet: "We are going to do to them what they did to us at the Valley. Keep it tight and hit them with a sucker punch late on. 0-1. No repeat of the attacking bravado seen in the second half against Cardiff but three welcome points. I'm very confident."
"Ipswich had a good win at Brentford, but they were not better than us at the Valley. If Igor is champing at the bit to make amends and JBG carries on where he left off, we can surprise them."
There was time for some warm eighties nostalgia: "This will be my first time up there for me since that epic FA Cup tie when we took 5,000. When was that? It was Les Berry's finest hour, and we had a young Paul Walsh up front."
"In reality I will take a 1-1 draw with Vetokele to break his drought. Perhaps we could sneak out with all three points if we play the way we did in the second half on Boxing Day (let's start with 10 men). If we do that, we'll have a decent chance of getting a good result."
There has been much said on their best formation. "I wouldn't start three at the back and I doubt Bob will either. He'll go at the very least with a flat back four and probably set up to match Ipswich in midfield. If we're chasing the game in the second half, he might very well change to 3-5-2 as Plan B."
The busiest and most informed message board is the polite and knowledgeable Charlton Life.
When looking around I also found http://www.charltonlife.com/discussion/38490/fa-cup-memories-ipswich-town-v-char short but nostalgic thread on our 1981 Cup encounter.
Photo: Action Images
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