Only two weeks ago we willingly accommodated Charlton who were looking for a friendly Reserve fixture to help some of their players return from fitness. We had already drawn them in the Cup and the match was played just prior to their first game with Dagenham.
We will now see more of our friends from Charlton over the next few days and let us hope that the team that succeeds, particularly in the Cup, is the most deserving.
Some supporters still believe in superstition and assume that we may be lucky this year. We have to earn the right and, although this afternoon’s game could be considered a dress rehearsal, it basically has no bearing on Wednesday’s game. When the whistle blows and the ball rolls the second game has no relevance to the first.
Charlton Athletic’s rise has been a wonderful story from a terrible situation of having to loan grounds at both Selhurst Park and Upton Park and restore the once famous Valley to a stadium to be proud of. They have a massive catchment area and there is no reason, if they are continually well managed by Alan Curbishley and directed by the Board, they cannot stay among the elite clubs for years to come.
The UEFA-FIFA debate goes on regarding the situation over transfers. A new meeting of the taskforce — UEFA vice-president Per Ravn Omdal, UEFA general secretary Gerhard Aigner, FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen and Slim Aloulou, chairman of FIFA’s Player’s Status Committee, will take place on February 16.
Until that time there is still nervousness in the transfer market. The European Commission have rejected proposals that would have allowed players aged under 28 to only break, for example, five year contracts after three years and that would have forbidden the transfer of under-18 players and also would have rejected ideas for a compensation system which would take into account a player’s commercial worth as well as how long his contract has to run.
Around this date our new owners will be fully installed and our future commitment will be clearer. We hope that our three senior England players will all re-sign, obviously in each case there are many considerations in the way the current climate in football has evolved. We have been very active looking at potential targets in the last few weeks and we are aware of other players in similar situations to our own who may be looking for a change in club.
Unfortunately our treatment room is still busy. Those that were fit enjoyed a few days training and golf in La Manga and hopefully will be back refreshed and better for the few days away.
With Les Ferdinand, Steffen Iversen and Chris Armstrong currently out of action, we decided that unless we were to move young Gary Doherty back up front, after he had a decent spell settling in at centre-back and such a switch might be counter-productive, something needed to be done. So we had a very hard few hours scouting around for a suitable loan — not easy in the circumstances because many clubs obviously don’t wish to release their better players.
As a result Andy Booth has joined us for a month from Sheffield Wednesday. I signed Andy for Wednesday from Huddersfield as a very promising 21-year-old and he did very well. So we give him a warm welcome here today and hope that he can add a bit of muscle and genuine centre-forward play to help Sergei Rebrov.
We have found goalscoring difficult recently and have looked a little lightweight up front. It is too much to expect young Dave McEwen, who needs a target man to play alongside him, to be an automatic success when being paired with Sergei.
Some of our other foreign players who have left recently have had interesting career moves. Paolo Tramezzani is now back with his original team Piacenza. Jose Dominguez has had one or two games, surprisingly, as a left wing back with Kaiserslautern who are in the top eight in the Bundesliga. And Moussa Saib has re-emerged at Auxerre where he played his early football before going to Spain and, subsequently, to England. And Ramon Vega is finding that football in Scotland is enjoyable, particularly when you are playing for a team that wins regularly and the standard of opposition is not as high as in the Premiership.
Let us hope we will continue our good home form today and, for once, show that we have enough about us to get the right result at Charlton on Wednesday. It should be an interesting few days.