A Man's Greatest Love ...
... is not necessarily his wife.*
Or his girlfriend(s).
So here's Another Charlton Season Preview
This time last year I said that in the case of one Darren Bent who's got a knack for scoring goals, the future's so bright, I've got to wear rose-tinted glasses. I also predicted another great season, which it both was and wasn't.
Last season was perhaps notable for the mid-season departures of two ball winning midfielders who thought they could ply their trades in front of bigger crowds. Danny Murphy has disappeared into a fugue of his own making having failed to win his Spurs and Alexin Smertin is out in the cold of Moscow. Until they left, we did quite well on the grounds of our opponents.
After that we won a few, lost a few, drew a few and didn't get relegated. I didn't bother cleaning my glasses too often. When the highlight of a season is reaching the quarterfinals of the Cup, then we can say it was a pretty good season, but not the best yet, even though, as I predicted, Darren Bent proved to be a star.
I didn't bother to stay up for the summer's World Cup matches, mainly out of disinterest but also because I had to get up early the following mornings. You see, although Darren ended the season as the top English goalscorer in the Premiership and with a full England cap, he didn't go to Germany because the England manager, Swedish rather than English, thought we could win without scoring any goals. (But Darren has managed 5 minutes on the pitch for England since - this Wednesday against Greece - a sight I saw as I paid for my beer with another nocturnal visit to the loo. I think he may have touched the ball once.)
Of course, the real news was the departure at season's end of Alan Curbishley
who decided he needed a holiday. Most of us agreed; that the last five minutes of the debacle against ManYoo was abandoned and devoted to a standing ovation for him was not really a reflection on the standard of the football but more to do with him. That I can watch my team on TV season after season, although I live half way round the world, is a testament to his strengths as a leader of limited resources. Few could have done so well.
With a new manager, Iain Dowie (now nicknamed Monica by Addicks worldwide following a bit of flippancy
by Jakartass) and eight, at the last count, new faces it may be possible for Little Ol' Charlton to end this coming season higher than last season's 13th which, coincidentally was the Guardian's prediction
. He has certainly raised expectations and the Addickted bloggers
have generally been positive whilst we wait for tonight's season opener against West Ham, which may or may not be shown live at midnight here.
Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, our major name signing, has popped up a bit this week on ESPN as they've been showing the goals of the first decade of the Premiership. A lot were his, left-footed, right-footed, headed and all with a menacing grin. Paired with Darren Bent and we could have a goal fest this season. All we need to do is bang in a few more than we let in, a thought which should remind you of what a great tactician Jakartass is. With Luke Young, our England no 2 right back as captain, Herman Heidarsson, the Iceland captain in midweek, the newly signed England no 3 goalkeeper Scott Carson as our no 38 (eh
?), assorted other internationals in the back row alongside Jonathon Fortune, who's not one but is home-grown, there may be that essential balance in defence.
Which leaves the middle of the park and the major conundrum. Who will feed the forwards and who will protect the rearguard? It could be Amady Faye signed from Newcastle along with Andy Reid signed from Spurs, or .... oh hell, I can't predict all this. As long as we've still got some gutsy players of the likes of the now departed crowd favourites Chris Powell (Watford) and Chris Perry (WBA), then we'll all, except those of us stuck in our armchairs, go home happy.
And the season ahead?
In this part of the world I've a new colleague, from the good 'ol USA, who's an ardent Addick. There's Colin in Thailand and, as always, there's Philip Goh of ESPN in Singapore. Other Addicks holiday hereabouts, so it's not so strange anymore declaiming my Addickshun. Or prognosticating (which is legal since you ask).
We won't be relegated, we'll play more exciting football, have three players in the England squad, and finish around ninth. I'll watch most matches in equal measures of fulfilment and frustration and at the end of the season say that my faith in Charlton hasn't faded.(*With no apologies to Frankie Valley as I've been gestating this missive for a week or so.)