Curbishley's bargain paying rich dividends

Charlton Athletic 4 - Norwich City 0
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The Independent Online

Alan Curbishley has always been able to spot a bargain and they don't come with much greater potential than Jerome Thomas. Although the Charlton manager splashed out £3m to bring Dennis Rommedahl from PSV Eindhoven in the summer, the Danish international has a job on his hands getting back into the starting eleven if Thomas, a £100,000 snip from Arsenal, keeps improving.

Alan Curbishley has always been able to spot a bargain and they don't come with much greater potential than Jerome Thomas. Although the Charlton manager splashed out £3m to bring Dennis Rommedahl from PSV Eindhoven in the summer, the Danish international has a job on his hands getting back into the starting eleven if Thomas, a £100,000 snip from Arsenal, keeps improving.

The youngster was hugely influential in a resounding victory that left Norwich City at the bottom of the table and without a win in 13 games, only two off the unenviable record set by Swindon Town 10 years ago.

"It doesn't matter if it's a big signing or a player coming through, it's all about confidence," said Curbishley. "Jerome came in when we sold Scott Parker and I didn't think at the time he was fit enough. I had no intention of introducing him until we got that right but he came back pre-season determined to take his chance.

"When you've got players who are hungry, it can go a long way. He's suddenly been thrust into the limelight but needs to do more in the final third. He's given everyone a lift. It's not just about him versus Rommedahl for a place. The fact is, no-one is safe but that's exactly the competition I want."

After a wretched run, Charlton are up into the top 10 after back-to-back wins and Curbishley also heaped praise on his strikers who may not be especially prolific but whose contribution, he said, is immense. On Saturday, Jonatan Johansson, who got two of Charlton's four goals and just edged out Thomas as man of the match, and Kevin Lisbie were the men in possession of the shirt.

"We are criticised for not scoring enough but the forwards we have are not greedy and do so much work. That kind of thing doesn't go unnoticed by me," said Curbishley. "There are strikers round the country who only have one or two goals, it's not just at Charlton. Sometimes fans don't appreciate what they can do."

Would that Norwich had even Charlton's level of firepower, as manager Nigel Worthington admitted. "We pass the ball and we work hard but the one thing we lack is getting the ball over the line," he said. "We have to stay on our feet because it's a harsh, cruel game."

Saturday's encounter certainly illustrated that. Two of the four goals conceded came just as Norwich were threatening to stage a recovery, and they also lost England squad keeper Robert Green with an injury halfway through the second half.

Green, however, should be fit for the vital six-pointers to come against Southampton and Birmingham. "When we get that first win, we'll push on," said Worthington defiantly. You can only feel for him and Norwich's fans, who sold out their allocation, swelling the attendance to a record 27,056 since Charlton returned to The Valley.

Goals: Johansson (15) 1-0; Johansson (21) 2-0; Konchesky (75) 3-0; Euell (88) 4-0.

Charlton (4-4-2): Kiely; Young, Perry, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson; Kishishev, Holland, Murphy (Euell 78), Thomas (Jeffers 85); Johansson, Lisbie (Konchesky 74). Substitutes Not Used: Andersen, Fortune.

Norwich (4-4-2): Green (Ward 63); Edworthy, Fleming, Charlton, Drury; Jonson (Bentley 45), Francis, Holt (Mulryne 65), Huckerby;McKenzie, Svensson. Substitutes Not Used: McVeigh, Helveg.

Referee: A Marriner (W Midlands)

Booked: Norwich: Edworthy, Francis, Bentley.

Man of the match: Johansson

Attendance: 27,056

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