Curbishley calls on Charlton to perform

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The Independent Online

Alan Curbishley has warned his players no one is place is safe as he aims to get Charlton back to winning ways in the Carling Cup against Blackburn tonight. The Addicks havelost four Premiership matches in succession to slide from second place to mid-table.

It all looked so different just a month ago, when Charlton were celebrating victory over holders Chelsea in the third round after a penalty shoot-out at Stamford Bridge. Curbishley has since tinkered with his team selection in the wake of what was a first away defeat of the season, losing 4-1 at Ewood Park just before the international break.

However, the changes - which included leaving midfielder Danny Murphy on the bench and dropping winger Dennis Rommedahl altogether - have failed to have the desired effect, with Charlton losing again, at Aston Villa, on Saturday.

It is an alarming loss of form, and Curbishley knows he must end it quickly. "I can't have the last two away performances, I can't," the Charlton manager insisted. "Since the Blackburn game, there have been five changes to the team, and there may well be again tonight. Part and parcel of having a squad strong enough is no one feels safe.

"No matter what you have paid for them - it does not matter if it has been your record signing Jason Euell or a big signing like Danny Murphy - it is the performances which count. They know they have not done themselves justice and there is an opportunity in the next four days to bounce right back - and that is what we have to hope they do."

The Charlton manager admitted that the high of beating Chelsea, the runaway leaders of the Premiership, had perhaps lulled his side into a false sense of security. "When we came off at Stamford Bridge we were on top of everything really," he recalled.

"Then we did not get the result against Bolton, then had a dreadful game up at Blackburn, then you know if Manchester United turned up - which they did - that could make it three on the spin.

"I was fairly confident we were going to get something at Villa, and then we did not perform. If you are not careful that can end up being five or six defeats. It has got to be arrested as soon as possible.

"It was only four weeks ago we were free-flowing and firing on all cylinders. We have got to get that back and add to it a bit of defensive responsibility.

"One or two of the players thought they had arrived, and I have told them that. If you think you have arrived in this league, then you are in trouble because you have to do it week in and week out. One or two of them have gone off the boil, one or two of them have not been playing as well as they should be, and one or two of them have perhaps been trying a bit too hard. It is up to me to try to get them back on track.

"But once they cross that line, it is all about them. It is about making as many right decisions as you can, and at the moment we are making too many wrong ones and it is not happening for us."

One change Curbishley could make tomorrow would be to recall the veteran goalkeeper Dean Kiely, now fit again following a fractured finger which forced him to miss the start of the season.

Although Stephan Andersen has shipped eight goals in the past four games, the Charlton manager maintains: "It is not always the goalkeeper's fault - he is always an easy target. You need to have a look at what is going on in front of him, at the midfield and the back four."

With a place in the Uefa Cup awaiting the winners, there is plenty of incentive for the Addicks tonight. Curbishley said: "It would be dreadful to think we could go to Stamford Bridge and get that result and then not be able to follow it up with a home win."

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