Sunday, 18 May 2014

Who should Roland sign?

Unlike the last two articles I have written, which were simply analyses based on fact, this article will be much more subjective. It seems to me that this is a Summer rife with opportunity, a chance for our owner to build on the successful survival last season. For me, the best way of doing this is holding on to the right players and introducing some fresh faces (proven at Championship level of course), and coupling this with the introduction of a few choice youngsters. If the season we just had has shown me anything, it is that Charlton's youth academy is a force to be reckoned with, even by Premier League standards. Particularly now that Dervite is supposedly on his way to Bolton, the introduction of players such as Harry Lennon will be a welcome addition to our team. So here are some of the ideas I have for Mr Duchatelet this Summer:


Ben Alnwick

Why look any further for this one than the man who looked perfectly good for us in that brief period when Hamer was injured? Currently a free agent, Alnwick only made one appearance for Orient when he moved away from us to make way for Thuram. With Hamer apparently moving away from Charlton this Summer (with Leicester the most likely destination), it would seem perfectly logical to re-sign the man who, in his 8 appearances for us, played extremely well. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that I felt slightly more assured with him in goal than I did with Hamer, but that is of course subjective. I would like to see Alnwick return and compete with Pope for the first team spot, providing us with a perfectly good pair of keepers for next season. One slightly different point I'd like to make is that I hope  Ben Roberts, or whoever was responsible for this tactical approach, tells our number 1 keeper at the start of next season to do what Hamer seems to have been doing for the last few weeks towards the end of the season. I noticed that Hamer seems to have started to try, whenever possible, to either roll the ball out to one of our full backs or, when kicking, aim for the wide men. This has proved very effective and epitomised the possessional confidence Riga instilled into the team. I think Alnwick will work well with this system and believe he is the right man to sign this Summer to compete with Pope.


Sean St Ledger/David Edgar?

Buying any full backs would, in my view, be completely pointless. With Wilson, Solly, and Nego more than enough to cover right back, and Wiggins and Fox both also on long-term deals covering the left back position, it seems to me that the centre back position is the only defensive position in need of strengthening. With Dervite gone, and Morrison potentially following him, Edgar and St Ledger are just two potential signings we could consider for next season. Both of them are out of contract and seemingly unwanted by their respective clubs (Burnley released Edgar on loan to Swansea where he only played a few games, and St Ledger has been out of favour at Leicester, on loan at Millwall, and presumably unable to make the step up to Leicester's current Premier League status). Having seen both of these two play, I would definitely not rule them out as potential signings. These two are just suggestions, but it is becoming clear that we need reinforcements in this position. 


Harry Arter

As someone who has followed Charlton from a very young age, I was confused as to why Arter wasn't given a proper chance for the club. Having watched him thrive at Bournemouth in particular, I am convinced he would be a brilliant signing for us. He is a creative player, seeming to always find the right pass (like Poyet) and I really enjoy his style of play. Unlike the defensive signings, this is a signing that I am going to be wholly specific about and say that I think Arter is exactly the right player to sign in this transfer window. He is still young and his contract expires next month for Bournemouth. Additionally, while he seems to be a key player for them, I understand that Bournemouth are in financial trouble, reporting a £15m loss in the 2012-13 season and in serious debt. This, in turn, has meant that they are now due to sell key players such as Lewis Grabban in an attempt to regain financial stability. It is therefore possible that we could sign Arter from them this Summer and I believe he would be a perfectly suitable replacement for Poyet if he leaves. 

Astrit Ajdarevic

I'm a big fan of Astrit and believe we should sign him on a permanent deal. He is versatile, passionate, incredibly skilful, and if he can get his fitness sorted for next season, I believe he would be another great signing for the club.


Marvin Sordell/Imoh Ezekiel

I think our goalscoring record spoke for itself this season. However, towards the end of the season we suddenly showed our ability to hit the back of the net. In particular, our games against Sheffield Wednesday, Yeovil, and Blackpool were a good sign of our goalscoring capability. Two players who were responsible for this were, ironically, the two players who seemed to receive the most stick from the fans. I cannot stress enough how vital Sordell's hat-trick against Wednesday was. I am convinced, despite the fact that this is not arithmetically true in hindsight, that we would have gone down without those goals. That game, we were given a taste of how good the 'confidence players' can be when they are full of it. Sordell's goals in that game were all fantastic, showing his ability to be absolutely lethal in front of goal when he is at the top of his game. Equally, his goal against Blackburn looked effortless, despite the fact that we went on to lose that game and his penalty attempt was saved. On a slight tangent, I think that was almost a good thing in hindsight. The fact that Sordell had the confidence to want to take the penalty ahead of Jacko really does suggest that he has gained bags of confidence in his ability. The idea of him optionally taking a penalty at the beginning of the season is laughable and, looking back, he was a shadow of his current self. But with this new desire and commitment, he can be a truly prolific forward.

 He and Harriott both came into their own towards the end of the season, with Harriott's hat-trick against Blackpool and brace against Watford epitomising this sudden confidence for the pair.
 It seems that Bolton don't rate Marvin, and this, coupled with their vast amount of debt, could mean that we could sign him on a permanent basis. I believe that, with the right start to next season, he and Harriott could work well together and become regular goalscorers. 

As far as Ezekiel is concerned, he looks a very handy young player with a decent goalscoring record for Liege and we have apparently been strongly linked with him. While he is contracted to the Belgian club until 2017, I think he is worth a punt on a season-long loan deal, and Roland could make further use of his network to make this happen. He's just an example of the sort of player we should be signing this Summer, because I don't personally believe that Reza and Church will be a strong enough attacking partnership to compete in the Championship next season. We need goals and these two are just two of the players I think we should sign. 

Jose Riga

As well as making a few of these player signings, I believe that the most important signing our owner can make is Riga. He changed the way we played as a team and I believe that, with him at the helm, we can push for the playoffs in the upcoming season (provided we make a few signings to strengthen the squad). 

Overall, the future looks bright and if we can hang on to the players who made the difference last season, as well as exploiting our superb youth academy, there are good things to come for the club. For the people who are already beginning to fret about Duchatalet's intentions this upcoming season (asset-stripping, selling our best players to Liege, using us a feeder club etc..), try to remember that, while his footballing knowledge may be slim, he is also a businessman with a desire to make money. The way that he will do that is to get Charlton to the Premier League. Look at Cardiff; they earned £62m from television sales alone this season, despite their relegation. While they obviously have a bigger fanbase than us, this is still something to look at. Is our owner going to be more concerned with getting his Belgian club to the Champions League or with getting us to the top tier of English football? Time will tell, but I have a funny feeling our fortunes are about to change. Inevitably, this will be accompanied by some unpopular decisions, some head-scratching, heartache and pain. But this is the nature of football, and indeed of being a Charlton fan, and it's par for the course. I'm looking forward to seeing what the upcoming season holds in store for the club. I could be wrong, I could be right, but I will embrace the owner's decisions with cautious optimism.

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