Reed's tough task against momentum-building Liverpool
Intriguing match of the day is languishing Charlton at home to momentum-building Liverpool.
The after-effects of Alan Curbishley's summer departure was always going to be tricky for Charlton, but this was badly compounded in my opinion by the decision to sack Iain Dowie after only a few months in the job. Dowie strikes me as a thoughtful and passionate coach and I still don’t understand why the Charlton board decided to cause further upheaval and dismiss him with such haste.
The new coach, Les Reed, was promoted from within Dowie's newly recruited coaching staff and with five games played his record is three away defeats (including a 5-1 mauling at Spurs last weekend), one home draw and a last minute home win to Blackburn. His side is still in rooted in the bottom three and need to build some sort of momentum soon if they are not going to keep plumbing the Premiership depths. A home win against a Liverpool side that for most of the season has had a poor away record will be an excellent way to signal an intent to retain their Premiership status. It will be a great test of Les Reed's credentials as a Premiership manager.
For Liverpool, I remember that it was this time last year that they strung win after win together to drive themselves up the table, and there are signs from there impressive last two matches which saw 4-0 wins at Wigan and at home to Fulham that they are looking good to again excel during the early winter period. Steven Gerrard, significantly, looks to be getting more in the action and with comments I saw yesterday that he harbours a resentment against Les Reed during the days when the Charlton manager was part of Kevin Keegan's England coaching staff, I expect that the dynamic version of Gerrard will again be on show today.
It is also significant that Liverpool have kept five Premiership clean sheets in a row - this defensive solidity is the trademark of Benitez teams and he will be delighted that it has be re-found. This coincides with the inclusion of young Daniel Agger who looks to have now cemented a first-team place at the exclusion of the ageing Sami Hyppia.
So Liverpool will be travelling to the Valley with confidence that they are building a good momentum. On the other hand Charlton are dependant on home games to get them up the table and I am really interested in seeing Les Reed's coaching and motivational prowess in what is easily the biggest game of his managing career. Coming off the back of the embarrassment at Spurs they could do with the type of result that reassures them of their Premiership worth.