Two weeks ago we watched Charlton draw another frustrating blank against Millwall. As expected, Bob Peeters’ side were superior in every department apart from finishing – a fact best summed up by George Tucudean’s late fluffed chance.
At approximately 94 minutes and 30 seconds, three sides of the Valley were on their tiptoes as the Romanian bore down on goal, one-on-one with ‘keeper David Forde.
At approximately 94 minutes and 34 seconds they were gesticulating and shouting, part in fury, part in disbelief and part in despair after Tucudean inexplicably tried to chip Forde and prod it in. The situation required clinical simplicity, Tucudean provided muddled indecision.
I fear Tucudean’s reputation amongst Charlton will take a long time to recover.
The 0-0 draw was a frustrating, if not devastating result. Yet for me one of the more satisfying elements was the performance of Callum Harriott.
This was by far and away the young winger’s best game in a Charlton shirt so far this season. Harriott’s motor had its torque turned up to maximum. He ripped past right back Alan Dunne again and again, got in behind the Millwall defence and generally made things happen for the men in red.
The 20 year old rekindled the telepathic combination play with left-back Morgan Fox, the same combination that saw Harriott score five goals in the final two matches of last season. Those games aside, I felt the Millwall game was one his strongest appearances in a Charlton shirt.
But not everyone agreed with me. After the match I was genuinely surprised to see a long line of Charlton fans lambasting Harriott and his performance, for making poor decisions and pulling out of challenges (even if they would have almost certainly left him crippled). For many, he was not up to scratch.
Every fan sees the game in their own way, and the discrepancies between opinion is one of the joys of debating with each other. But I can’t help but wonder if some fans have their opinion of Harriott set in stone due to incidents that stand out in the mind.
This time last season the crowd would sing his name whenever Powell left him out of the starting XI in caution. A year on, his introduction is met with moans and groans.
Harriott has enjoyed a rip-roaring end to last season, but before that there were two big, bad misses in high-profile games. Harriott fluffed his lines in front of two open goals from centimetres out. The first came with the score tied at 0-0 in the FA Cup quarter final at Sheffield United. The second in a crucial relegation “six-pointer” against Barnsley. Some fans have never forgiven him.
Yet just as his hat-trick performance wasn’t entirely typical of Harriott’s talents, neither were those two glaring misses. Against Millwall, Harriott proved what an effective weapon he can be, but some fans did not want to see it.
More than Harriott, Tucudean’s name predictably got bombarded with criticism in the wake of the Millwall game. Over the week I have even seen some describe him as one of the worst strikers in our history.
Tucudean’s expert finish against Bolton in October was one of the best goals of our season so far. But that was Bolton. In the middle of the first half. No matter how many times Tucudean repeats that feat while at SE7, there will be one failure that will always weigh more heavily in the minds of Charlton fans.
I can understand the frustration, but perhaps it would be better for us all to forgive, and forget.