It is that time of the year again, the long wait is nearly over with just four days until the new season begins there is much to be excited about for Charlton fans about the coming 2014/15 season. It has been a busy summer for Charlton including our new manager Bob Peeters, eight new signings and extensive refurbishments of The Valley.
Peeters has high expectations for all eight of the new Charlton players and here is a brief introduction to each of them.
Yoni Buyens was the first summer signing for The Reds when they snapped him up on a season-long loan from Standard Liege. The 26-year-old had been a regular for Liege since arriving from fellow Belgian Pro League side KM Mechelen in 2011, scoring 12 times in 103 league appearances.
The defensive midfielder has featured regularly for Standard in the Europa League and scored his only European goal against Bundesliga outfit Hannover 96.
Charlton then completed the signing of Igor Vetokele from FC Copenhagen after agreeing a five-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
The 22 year old began his career with Belgian Pro League side Gent, Vetokele switched to Cercle Brugge where he played under Addicks boss Bob Peeters before earning a move to FC Copenhagen in 2012 winning the league title during his first season.
Last season he was Copenhagen top scorer with 13 goals in 31 appearances as Ståle Solbakken’s side booked a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds.
Vetokele is a former Belgium U21 international and has also received two caps for Angola’s senior side.
Franck Moussa was the next to be snapped up by Peeters, singing a two year deal after the goal-scoring midfielder was a free agent having left Coventry City at the end of his previous contract following a successful spell with the Sky Blues.
Moussa scored an impressive 14 goals for Coventry last season, he also managed to finish first, second and third in the club’s goal of the season vote and a goal against Leyton Orient was named as Goal of the Year at the 2014 Football League Awards.
Andre Bikey Amougou
Bikey-Amougo became Charlton’s fourth signing of the summer with a two year contract after spending a trial period with the reds.
The central defender, who has played for Reading, Burnley and Middlesbrough, signed on a free transfer after his contract with Panetolikos F.C of the Greek Superleague expired.
The 29-year-old Cameroon international has had spells in Russia, Spain and Portugal before arriving in England with Reading in August 2006.
Tal Ben Haim
Tal Ben Haim has signed a one-year contract with The Addicks. The central defender arrived from Standard Liege.
The experienced 32 year old has spent time with Bolton, Chelsea and Manchester City. The Israeli made 23 appearances during his one and only season at Stamford Bridge before moving to Manchester City for around £5m in July 2008.
After spending some time at Sunderland, he then joined Portsmouth in 2009 following a loan spell at West Ham United, Ben Haim joined Queens Park Rangers before moving to Liège in July 2013.
Ber Gudmundsun is a 23-year-old highly-rated winger and signed a two year deal at The Valley as a free agent after parting ways with Dutch Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar.
He made 145 appearances over four seasons for the Dutch club, scoring 13 times as he gained a reputation for scoring spectacular goals.
Gudmundsson has won 32 caps for Iceland’s national team and he scored a sensational hat-trick against Switzerland during a World Cup qualifier with his 90th-minute curler to seal a point in a 4-4 draw.
He has also spent time with both Fulham and Chelsea as a teenager when his parents relocated to England, before he returned to Iceland to embark on his senior career with Breiðablik at the age of 18.
The 23-year-old is a former Romania youth international who made his name at Dinamo Bucuresti before going on to represent his country’s U21 side.
His performances caught the attention of Standard Liège who he signed for in January 2013 before being loaned back to Dinamo for the duration of the 2013/14 campaign.
Charlton then signed goalkeeper Stephen Henderson on a three-year contract. He joined the Addicks after leaving West Ham United and becomes Head Coach Bob Peeters’ eighth first-team signing of the summer.
The 26-year-old boasts a wealth of Championship experience having represented Ipswich Town, Portsmouth, Bristol City and AFC Bournemouth in England’s second tier. He then made a permanent move to West Ham before joining Ipswich in 2012.
The former Aston Villa trainee was also capped eight times by the Republic of Ireland’s U21 side.
The Valley improvements
As well as the new look squad, there have been a number of changes at The Valley this summer to give the entire stadium a new look including extensive work refurbishing different areas of the stadium and even introducing a new match day menu!
The most important improvement is the installation of a new drainage system then root zones laid and grass seed planted during the grass establishment period. The end result is a state of the art new playing surface with Astro Turf, which is surround by newly constructed playing surface.
The addition of the artificial grass will bring an end to the wear and tear usually suffered pitch side, around the dugouts and, in particular, along the linesman’s touchline run.
“The linesman will run along the Astro Turf to prevent any wear and tear on the natural grass,” explained Head Valley Groundsman Nathan Chapman.
The new-look turf replaces the gravel and concrete that previously occupied the pitchside area and includes three large Charlton crests along the length of the pitch as well as the club’s famous sword emblem behind each of the corner flags.
All the steps in the stadium have also been painted to restore them to their vibrant yellow colour including the installation of 5,760 brand new North Stand seats.
Chapman has said that The Valley will be a place that all supporters will be able to be proud of. “There’s been a lot of investment put into the stadium and I think it needed it. It was rundown and just needed updating. Come the first game of the season, it’s going to look outstanding. It’s going to be something people will be very proud of.”
There is also going to be a new menu on match days including sausages, pies, mash and fish and chips, including the all-important improvement of beer!
Written by Becca James @Becca_James
Manager: Bob Peeters
It’s fair to say that following his arrival into SE7 this summer, the majority of fans will have responded in the same fashion when Peeters was unveiled as the new manager of the club.
“Who? Didn’t he used to play for Millwall?”
Indeed, that’s the very man who takes charge of the side for the forthcoming campaign.
Peeters has previously plied his trade in the Belgian Pro-League with Waasland-Beveren and had spells with Gent and Cercle Brugge before that, so he arrives as somewhat of an unknown quantity and has had to be quick to adjust to his new managerial role in England.
It’s a challenge he certainly seems up for, and one which he has no intention of shying away from, back in June during his first press conference he said:”For a 40-year-old manager it is a big challenge. I want to work in a bigger competition and try to develop myself as a manager as well. I’m looking forward to it.”
His meeting with the media at The Valley hit all the right notes: he came across well, he was level headed, and he had an idea of what he wanted to implement.
“With good organisation, good shape and a lot of passion and will you can achieve a lot as a team.”
It sounds promising, and having spoken to Bob already on a number of occasions this pre-season I can vouch that he is one hundred percent committed to moving this great club forward and achieving big things.
With the mention of good shape and organisation in mind, and taking into consideration the most recent match at Portsmouth, here’s my guess at our first choice 4-4-2 line up:
Wilson Morrison Bikey Wiggins
Gudmundsson Jackson Buyens Harriott
In goal, I’d say Henderson will get the nod over Nick Pope to begin with, given his Championship experience and number 1 jersey.
The full backs pick themselves – I don’t know the full extent of Chris Solly’s injury, but I’d imagine it’s unlikely he’ll play every week.
The centre back pairing I’d most like to see is that of Morrison and Bikey. The latter over Tal Ben-Haim because for all his experience he hasn’t impressed me too much from what I’ve seen in recent pre-season matches.
On the wings, Gudmundsson and Harriott are two players that could be pivotal to us having a successful campaign. On the right, Johann possesses speed, agility and a fearsome shot (we’ve all seen the YouTube videos), and Harriott’s progression at the end of last year can only bode well for this coming season.
Up front is where we have all change. Vetokele is fleet-footed and works tirelessly for the side, not to mention he knows where the net is – we could have a goal scoring striker!
Alongside him, Tucudean is more of a target man given his sizeable presence, could he be the one to finally replace that Yann shaped hole in the side? You’d certainly hope so.
In reserve, it speaks volumes for the strength of the squad that I haven’t included Jordan Cousins in the starting eleven, and with the likes of Nick Pope, Joe Gomez, Morgan Fox, Chris Solly, Simon Church and even potentially Reza Ghoochannejhad all in place to step in if needed I can’t envisage us struggling again this season.
Should that side take to the field on Saturday at Griffin Park, I’d anticipate that we’ll look to get the ball out wide at every possible opportunity. Expect to see Wilson and Wiggins over-lapping and getting round Harriott and Gudmundsson respectively, aiming for Tucudean in the centre, leaving Vetokele to pick up the scraps in the area – how easy is this manager lark?
In the midfield, Buyens will be the one more likely to sit in front of the two centre backs, allowing the skipper to continue to get forward in the way we’re all now familiar with, arriving late into the box.
Morrison looked more comfortable with the ball on the floor as each game went by under Jose Riga last year, so expect to see him pick up the ball from the keeper and full backs, and allow Bikey to take care of the aerial threat from the opposition.
With a host of new arrivals and a new man at the helm, it’s difficult to gage how long it’ll take for all of the pieces of the jigsaw to be put together and more importantly whether they will all fit.
What can be said is that the new men in SE7 have a mix of both experience (Bikey, Ben-Haim, Buyens and Henderson) and promise for the future (Gudmundsson, Tucudean and Vetokele).
The new manager has his side, and a clear idea of how he wants to play – we look more stable and settled than a number of other teams in the division.
Predictions are those things that get saved on a certain site then brought up again when they’re spectacularly wrong. So with that in mind I’m going for a 9th place finish. We’ll just miss out on the play-offs. That’s from all of us at Charlton Live!
Up the Addicks!
Written by Alex Stedman @astedman1