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Matt Holland's Blog 28

27 February 2013

Chris Powell was arguably the npower Championship's most frustrated manager this weekend after the Addicks were beaten 2-1 at The Valley by Nottingham Forest. On the face of it, losing to Forest wasn't the biggest shock of the season but it did extend Charlton's miserable run at home and Chris said after the match that he wished the team's last 12 games were on the road.

Take a look at the table and you can see where Chris was coming from. The Addicks have the joint worst record at home in the npower Championship with Wolverhampton Wanderers with just four wins but they also have one of the best records away from home. In fact, only Cardiff City, Watford and Hull City have more victories on their travels.

A poor, losing sequence at home can become a vicious circle because the more frustrated the crowd become with results, the more pressure players feel. It's exaggerated if the team is in the wrong half of the table and the anxiety in the stands can quickly transfer itself to the pitch and players become increasingly reluctant to get on the ball and lack the courage to try and make something happen.

I've been there as a player. I never really heard the crowd when the ball was in play but as soon as the game stopped for a substitution or an injury, the mood in the stadium was pretty obvious and it could get to me if it was negative. Home support is fantastic when things are going well but it can also become a weight on your shoulders in difficult circumstances.

Chris was joking when he said he wished they could play away from home every weekend but I'm sure there was a grain of truth in his comments as well.

It wasn't a great weekend for Wolves either after their 2-1 defeat to Cardiff at Molineux. The bookies will have had Cardiff as favourites before kick-off but the result did underline Wolves' continuing struggles and extended their run without a win in the npower Championship to 11 matches.

I'm hugely surprised that Dean Saunders hasn't managed to get a reaction from the players since he got the Wolves job in January. I thought he'll get that 'new manager' bounce but it hasn't materialised yet and Wolves are in serious trouble now.

What mystifies me is how the club is in this predicament with the squad they have. On Sunday they had Jamie O'Hara, Karl Henry and Roger Johnson in the starting XI - all players with Premier League experience - and three Republic of Ireland internationals in Kevin Doyle, Kevin Foley and Stephen Ward on the bench. With those resources, they should be nowhere near the bottom.

The only explanation I can offer is the hangover after relegation is lingering longer than anyone realised. I had Wolves as a top six side this season and I'm guessing the players still haven't got over the disappointment of going down.

The rumour mill shows no sign of slowing down despite the close of the transfer window and I thought it was ironic that young Southampton left-back Luke Shaw has been linked with a £10million move to Chelsea in the same week that an old Saints left-back has been making the headlines.

I'm talking of course about Gareth Bale and his unbelievable form for Spurs and I'm sure Southampton are hoping they've unearthed another rough diamond in Shaw.

I've seen the lad play a few times this season and I've got to say he's still very much a work in progress and £10million might be a bit fanciful at the moment. Southampton have forged such a reputation for producing the goods at their Academy with the likes of Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and maybe that's has helped to fuel a bit of hype around Shaw.

I'm certainly not saying he can't make the step up but he's only played a handful of npower Championship games, so it's a bit early to be putting too much pressure on a 17-year-old.

The best story of the week for me was an interview with midfielder Almen Abdi, who's on loan at Watford from Udinese, who came out and said he loved the food in England. As everybody knows, it's part of the job for foreign players to complain about our food, so it made a refreshing change to hear one of them actually complimenting our cuisine.

A lot of the foreign lads I played with did have problems but the worst was definitely Paolo di Canio during the season I had with at Charlton.

Paolo was an absolute nightmare when it came to food and would always send his pasta back to the kitchen if it wasn't cooked exactly how he wanted it. Whenever we were in a hotel before a game, he'd march into the kitchen to tell the chef he wanted his pasta cooked al dente - seven or eight minutes he said - and if wasn't to his liking, it went straight back.

I'm not sure the chefs knew what hit them.

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