Like most weeks in football after the closure of the transfer window, this one has been rather low on news for Charlton fans. Perhaps about the most interesting snippet is the addition of trialist goalkeeper Carlos Alberto Fernandes. Depending on what you read he was either ‘one of Steaua's weakest links‘ (Wikipedia) or ‘a dependable goalkeeper who…helped tighten up a sometime porous Steaua Bucharest defence’ (Football.stats.com). Whatever the truth is we can be assured, with his excellent transfer record, Pardew will work it out. With the limited funds available, Pardew appears to have bought well.
Despite his age, Alexandre Song seems to be a good acquisition. He provides what Faye should provide, not only protection for the back four but also the link between defence and the attacking midfielders, both of which were exemplified for at least the half an hour on Saturday, hopefully there is more to come. Perhaps Pardew’s biggest achievement, however, was selling an accident-prone Djimi Traore, buying a generally more solid Ben Thatcher and making a £500k profit in the process. Pardew was clever here as he landed himself an experienced, strong full back fairly cheaply due to his thuggish reputation, not (as he showed on Saturday) because of a lack of quality. What’s more, Thatcher clearly looks like he wants to lose that reputation. His conduct and attitude have been exemplary, yet he has maintained a fair yet physical side to his game, which has been equally impressive.
This week we have also seen a series of confident quotes from our two best players on Saturday, Ambrose and Thomas. If their confidence can continue to be prominent, and they can attack as sharply and as clinically as they did on Saturday six or seven more times this season, and we can get Andy Reid back playing and fit, then we have excellent chance of survival. Pardew spoke of ‘dragging other teams into it’ and that is exactly what is happening. With our current form and respective run ins, there is now a possibility that ourselves and Wigan could both survive.
With Sheffield United still having to go to Stamford Bridge, The Reebok Stadium, Old Trafford and having to play us at the Valley combined with their distinct lack of quality and their lack of experience at this level makes them serious candidates for relegation, despite their superior points total. With Manchester City having Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United still remaining on their fixture list they are very much still in a relegation battle also. It could quite easily been one of those two that joins Watford and West Ham in the bottom three.
Looking ahead to the Watford game, it is hard to imagine Pardew making any unforced changes from the side that destroyed West Ham last weekend. The enforced change will be at centre half, with the improving Souleymane Diawara suspended it looks likely that the recently recalled Jonathan Fortune will return, pending the injuries of Hreidarsson and Bougherra. This is a shame for Diawara who has shown great character since the Chairman’s uncharacteristic, inappropriate and indiscrete remarks about him earlier in the season. However, this does represents an opportunity Fortune, who was apparently ‘impressive’ at Stoke, to show his worth, and he needs to considering the amount of centre halfs now at the club. Let’s hope he does as his inclusion and performance could be crucial.
One thing is for sure, Watford will be playing against a different Charlton side to the stuttering and unconfident one that drew 0-0 with them in October. Either side could have one that day, but if we can attack with the same level of execution as last Saturday against West Ham then Watford do not stand a chance.