Curbishley lays blame on new boys and injuries

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The Independent Football

Alan Curbishley admits Charlton's summer signings have yet to settle at The Valley and blames the loss of virtually an entire side for the club's stuttering start to the season.

Alan Curbishley admits Charlton's summer signings have yet to settle at The Valley and blames the loss of virtually an entire side for the club's stuttering start to the season.

The Addicks have seen six first-team players either retire or join other clubs since last November, while another three influential squad members have been unavailable this term through injury.

Curbishley splashed out £9m during the summer to help plug the gaps, with quality signings such as Danny Murphy, Francis Jeffers and Dennis Rommedahl agreeing to a stint in south-east London. But their integration into the Charlton side has not been smooth and the club's performances have suffered, as demonstrated by a haul of seven points from five matches.

"Let's go through who has gone," Curbishley said. "Since Christmas we've lost Richard Rufus, Gary Rowett, Claus Jensen, Scott Parker, Carlton Cole and Paolo Di Canio. Add to that Mark Fish, Matt Holland and Shaun Bartlett who are all injured and that's nine players missing who most Charlton fans would say should be in our team.

"We've replaced them but we haven't added to the squad in terms of numbers. It's taking the newcomers time to bed in. They haven't settled. There's no divine right to say that because you've been bought, when you turn up at the club everything is rosy.

"There are a lot of things that go into a move. It would have been nice if we'd got our business done early in the transfer window so we could have bedded the new guys in."

In contrast, Swedish defender Andreas Jakobsson made a strong start to his Southampton career in Monday's goalless draw at Charlton. He was making his Saints debut after completing a £1m move from Brondby on transfer deadline day and he forged a promising partnership with Claus Lundekvam at centre-back.

The Southampton manager, Steve Wigley, said: "He played well. We've been lucky with the break for World Cup qualifying - he's retired from international football and it gave him time to see what English football is all about."

Saints should have taken all three points from The Valley thanks to a gritty performance and Wigley admitted commitment was the key weapon in his side's armoury.

"We've always been a team people don't like playing against. We're a fit side, work very hard and from that we start to play. It's very important to defend from one to 11 away from home and that's what we did against Charlton," he said. "We have to do that because any time we're at 90 per cent we're very vulnerable. We have to be flat out, playing to our maximum, and from there we start to pass the ball better."

Wigley sent his troops out several minutes early for the second half and ordered them to play keep-ball in a bid to ensure they restarted the match at full throttle. It worked as Southampton controlled much of the second period, creating more chances than Charlton in, frankly, a dire match. Only a string of fine saves from the goalkeeper Dean Kiely kept the Addicks in the game, including a fantastic one-handed dive to a Rory Delap shot in the 60th minute.

Wigley said: "In the first half we were competitive, we were in the fight and I wanted to make sure we were after the interval. I think it worked. If it hadn't been for Dean Kiely and if we'd had the rub of the green it would have been a different result."

Saints have never enjoyed a Premiership victory at The Valley and Wigley felt that winless streak should have come to an end on Monday against an out-of-sorts Charlton. "I'm disappointed not to have won," he said. "We created more chances and got more crosses into the box.

"Coming to Charlton is never easy and I would have taken a point before the game but now I think we should have had three."

Both teams left the pitch to a crescendo of boos as the crowd vented their anger at what proved to be a dismal encounter and Curbishley said he had some sympathy with them.

"The supporters were getting on everyone's back. If we were a newly promoted side they would have clapped us off but we've gone past that stage now," he said. "We didn't play well so I can't knock them. They pay their money and they expect to see something better than that."

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