New Season but the same old nonsense

So here we are again, days away from another league season at the ongoing soap opera that is Charlton Athletic Football Club.

A disappointing play off 2-0 legged defeat to Shrewsbury Town under caretaker manager, Lee Bowyer left fans fed up but hopes were raised by the appearance in the directors box of the Australian consortium at both legs. They can’t just be here to watch a game of football? They must be buying us! At last we are rid of the Belgium owner. Praise to God!

12 weeks later, Duchatelet is still in charge, Bowyer still as Caretaker (the only one in the top five divisions of English football) and for reasons unknown the Australians are not any closer to taking over but have not walked away. Yet!

The squad has been shrunk to 19 first team players, Konsa, Lennon and Magennis sold for undisclosed fees, all the loans back to their respective teams and Bowyer is shopping in the free transfer market with 2 brought in so far. Lyle Taylor and Darren Pratley. Good additions at this level, but no sign of a transfer budget for him to work with. The transfer window closes on the 9th August but he can still get loans up to the end of that month. Hopefully the owner will give him adequate funds to at least do that. The 3 lads on trial, Simon Dawkins, Rohan Ince and Elliott Ward were not seen at the final preseason game v Norwich last Saturday. If they will be seen in a Charlton shirt again, is anyone’s guess.

So the squad then. Dillion Phillips (23) the only first team keeper in the squad. His chances have been limited. A season at National League Champions, Cheltenham Town, the only regular football he has seen since 2016. At present he’s likely to get a run, unless Bowyer is allowed to exploit the loan/free transfer market for a Number 1.

At the back, well that currently picks it itself like a Sunday morning team over Danson Park. Chris Solly (27), Jason Pearce (30), Patrick Bauer (25) and Lewis Page (22) with French centre half, Naby Sarr (24) as back up until called upon. All five missed parts of last season due to injury, and Bowyer will be crossing everything that they don’t get hurt, or in Bauer’s case sold on. Bauer has been offered a new deal but no signature has been forthcoming (The same with Aribo and Fosu)

The midfield is now less one Ahmed Kashi who made his way back on the Eurostar back to France on a free transfer and club legend, Johnnie Jackson who has taken his place on the line as first team coach.

That leaves a middle 3 of Joe Aribo (22), new signing, 33 year old Darren Pratley and Jake Forster- Caskey (24). Again, good players at this level and will cause problems for opposition teams. Behind them is the athletic, Anfernee Dijksteel (20) who was seen at Right Back for a spell last season, but would be excellent in a midfield role. However the lad has been diagnosed with pneumonia and the timescale when he will return is unknown.

The attacking midfield and wide roles is filed by Mark Marshall (31), Ben Reeves (26), Tariqe Fosu (22) and Billy Clarke (30). Sadly only one of those is currently fit and available. That being Marshall who will hope to have a better season after being disappointing since his free transfer move from Bradford. Reeves and Clarke won’t be back until September plus Fosu has suffered with another hamstring problem and won’t be back for another six weeks.

When fit the latter 3 have been very good (Reeves since Bowyer took charge in March) Clarke until his ACL in December and Fosu causing problems for opposition defences when fit.

Finally, the strikers. Top goal scorer, Magennis has moved on but has been replaced by 27 year old Lyle Taylor from AFC Wimbledon. Taylor scored 18 league and cup goals for the relegation threatened Dons and if gets the right service could be looking at repeating that figure. However Taylor is prone to injury and is a doubt for the opening day with a calf problem.

After that we have Nicky Ajose (26) and Igor Vetokele. Ajose has not lit up the Valley in his time with the club and is rumoured to be joining Coventry or a club abroad. Vetokele has returned after loan spells in Belgium but is currently unavailable until September with a foot injury suffered in pre season.

Which leaves us with Karlan (Aherne) Grant (20) and Reeco Hackett-Fairchild (20). The two have had off field issues back in June after a holiday in Ibiza. Both are now back at the club and pending any other issues need to get on with their football, as they both may have a spell in the first eleven for the first few weeks at least.

So that’s the 19. After that then Bowyer will have to delve into the Under 23’s and pick from the following, especially for the subs bench at present.

19 year old Australian goalkeeper, Ashley Maynard-Brewer
19 year old Australian Centre Back, Ryan Blumberg
19 year old Midfielder, Taylor Maloney
20 year old Midfielder, George Lapslie
18 year old Midfielder, Albie Morgan
18 year old Midfielder, Alfie Doughty and finally
21 year old Striker, Josh Umerah.

So Prediction for this season. Well if everyone was fit and stayed fit (I know it won’t happen and we are suffering already) then a top 6 spot would not be out of the question, maybe top 2. But injuries will play a part and unless Bowyer is given the tools to play with then a mid table finish is a distinct possibility.

For the long suffering fans, it’s a new season but the same old nonsense, while the Belgian is in charge of our club. Every day that he’s here it’s making it harder for us to move onwards and upwards. Keep praying people!

Failure to beat the top half sides in League One will cost Charlton promotion

Charlton’s failure to win against top half sides all season will cost them promotion, if the current trend continues between now and the end of the season

33 games played, 2 points off a play off spot with games in hand should see most fans optimistic that a top 6 place will be there by the start of May.

However 8 of those games are against sides in the top 12 and this is where they have struggled all season.

Games played against the current top twelve. 2017/2018

Played: 14
Won: 3
Draws: 3
Defeats: 8
Goals For: 8
Goals Against: 19
Points: 12

Away wins at Rotherham and Bradford have to go down as Charlton’s results of the season, but the failure to beat the likes of Gillingham (Twice), Plymouth, Peterborough and Portsmouth, is not good enough for the squad available to Robinson.

The manager states 71 points will be enough to get Charlton a play off spot, so where can we see those 20 points coming from.

5 at home, 8 away. Wins are essential against Wimbledon, Blackpool, Fleetwood, Northampton and Rochdale. With the rest of the games against other top half sides (Peterboro, Plymouth, Rotherham, Bristol Rovers, Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury, Portsmouth and Blsckburn) Charlton will need to rectify this awful run very quickly if they wish to be playing Championship football this August.

Even if the Addicks get into the Play Offs they will need to play their best football of the season result wise against the likes of Shrewsbury and Wigan, otherwise the season will be one big disappointment.

Halfway Point – Room For Improvement

Room for improvement would be on Charlton’s halfway season report after 23 League games played now.

9th with 36 points (with a game in hand away at 2nd place Shrewsbury in January) has now seen the Addicks fall away from the top six and with January/transfer window on the horizon, this is now the biggest month for Karl Robinson since his arrival over a year ago.

History would say that at least 75 points would be required to get a play off spot. A minimum of 39 points is possible in this league, but form/injuries would need to improve plus some new players into the squad.

Not ideal when automatic promotion should really be the aim, but to get 88 to 92 points from now on, would take a monumental run for that to happen.

History shows over the past 4 seasons that Charlton have been in the third tier of English football, that they have picked up fewer points in the second half of the season, than the first.

The main question that will be answered by the start of February is will the manager be given an adequate budget to play with by the current owner? Robinson’s recent comments are that for the first time he knows who he wants, but considering this is his 3rd window since being at the Valley, it does make you wonder what went wrong in the previous two, for him to make that comment.

No wins in 6 League games, mean we now have a section of fans questioning if he’s suitable enough to continue. If we still under the same ownership, then changing the manager would be nonsensical, however if new owners bought the club, then it would be a strong possibility that he would be requlinshed of his duties.

15 League Games. Automatic Promotion is on.

So fifteen league games gone and a third of the way through the league season. 4 wins and a draw in their last 5 games have put Charlton up to 4th with 30 points. Keep up this 2 point average then Charlton will finish in the top two and they will be playing Championship football next season. I don’t see Shrewsbury staying where they are, and I do see the likes of Bradford and Blackburn pushing along with Wigan for an automatic spot.

Hopefully they can get to January with Magennis unscathed and find replacements for Novak and Watt which they never replaced back in August. Luck and fortune is on Charlton’s side in that regard and long that may continue along with other key players staying injury free. The injury to Pearce has not been such a blow with the likes of Konsa and Sarr doing fine jobs.

Robinson needs promotion this season. Regardless who will be our owners come next May, they will expect in my opinion Championship football. So far the results speak for themselves. Keep it up.

First Fifteen League Games in seasons which lead to promotion.

2011/2012

34 points

1999/2000

32 points

1997/1998

26 points

1985/1986

30 points

First 10 League Games. An adequate start

So ten league games gone and now time to start looking at the league table. I would have expected a minimum of 18 points but the last 4 games without a win have left Charlton in 7th spot and 3 points behind the 2 point average for automatic promotion.

First Ten League Games in seasons which lead to promotion.

2011/2012

24 points

1999/2000

22 points

1997/1998

19 points

1985/1986

20 points

An adequate start so far, and no reason why this cannot be turned around with the ability on show, but injuries to key positions is always a factor with a small ish squad. An injury to Pearce is a huge blow and hopefully he won’t be out for too long.

Still pick up 23 points from the next ten games and everything will be fine again, but fail to pick up half of those points, then I would fear for Robinsons time in SE7.

Wot No Strikers! An indifferent transfer window

The end of another transfer window for Charlton, which should have been an excellent one, has left a sour taste in supporters mouths, with the lack of senior forwards at the club.

First of all though let’s start with the many positives.

The new contracts given to Pearce, Magennis and Holmes, especially when a well earned move to a higher level of football looked on the cards for the former Northampton player.

The return of the excellent Kashi and the keeping of young Konsa, another plus point.

Then the new signings. Clarke, Marshall, Reeves, Fosu and Amos. All good players who bar Marshall (currently injured) have made a postive impact so far.

If the window had ended at the start of the new season, then most Charlton supporters would have deemed the window to have been an successful one, with a squad capable of promotion back to the Championship.

Sadly the window still had the rest of the month to run and the issue of strikers at the club was about to raise it’s ugly head.

During July Ajose and Vetokele were loaned to Bury and St Triden. Not an issue as the way Robinson sets up his sides, Magennis, Novak and Watt would be capable of causing issues in League One.

By the end of the first week of the new season, Watt was gone to Belgium on a permanent deal. Robinson said he would not go until a replacement was found. That clearly did not happen.

So we go into the final day of August with only 2 senior strikers. Hope was that a proven striker would come in, or a worse case scenario, a young hungry premiership player.

Nothing all day until the news that Novak had gone to fellow League One side, Scunthorpe. Then the news that Joe Dodoo, a Glasgow Rangers youngster that had not seen much action north of the border, was joining on loan until January.

With the news that promising youngsters, Hanlan and Umerah had also been loaned out, it leads the squad unbalanced.

So a promising window has unraveled with the lack of front men.

All pray that Magennis stays injury free for the rest of the year and young Dodoo is the player that we hope he is.

Promotion is still a given, but the powers that be have made the aim a lot more tougher to achieve.

Does a 20 League goal season player guarantee you promotion?

The lack of front men at the club has been causing a heavy debate on Charlton forums and social media with fans concerned it may cost the club promotion back to the Championship.

After a fifth home league win on the spin for the Addicks since April, then most people won’t care who scores just as long as we end up with 3 points.

So does a Twenty League goal a season player guarantee who promotion? No, far from it, but it does go a long way. 7 of the 9 promotions have seen someone hit that total.

Charlton’s nine promotions have seen the top scorers and league goals scored as follows.

1928/1929: Champions of the Third Division (South). Fred Whitlow: 22 League goals. Total League goals scored: 86 from 42 games.

1934/1935: Champions of the Third Division (South). Ralph Allen: 32 League goals. Total League goals scored: 103 goals from 42 games.

1935/1936: Runners Up of the Second Division.
Harold Hobbis 23 League goals. Total League goals scored: 85 goals from 42 games.

1974/1975: Promotion from the Third Division.
Derek Hales 20 League goals. Total League goals scored: 76 goals from 46 games.

1980/1981: Promotion from the Third Division.
Derek Hales 17 League goals. Total League goals scored: 63 goals from 46 games.

1985/1986: Runners Up of the Second Division.
John Pearson 14 League goals. Total League goals scored: 78 goals from 42 games.

1997/1998: Promotion from the Old First Division.
Clive Mendonca 23 League goals. Total League goals scored: 80 goals from 46 games.

1999/2000: Champions of the Old First Division.
Andy Hunt 24 League goals. Total League goals scored: 79 goals from 46 games.

2011/2012: League One Champions.
Bradley Wright-Phillips 22 League goals. Total League goals scored: 82 goals from 46 games.

So would a proflic front man help this current squad? That goes without saying, but with less than 2 weeks before the end of the transfer window, the manager is going to have to pull another rabbit from his magician’s hat from the bargain basement/loan market, or ask the owner for more funds.

However the likes of Stuart Leary, Mike Flanagan, Johnny Summers, “King” Arthur Horsfield & Dennis “Daisy” Edwards have ended up with that 20 plus mark, but for other reasons failed to gain the bubbly at the end of the season.

With the likes of Holmes, Clarke, Magennis & Forster-Caskey in the eleven and god willing they stay injury free then should be able to hit 40 league goals between them. Chuck in another 30 goals from the rest of the squad plus a steady back four keeping that ball out, then why can’t promotion happen.

Bolton went up as Runners Up from League One last season. 68 goals scored, and only 36 goals conceded.
Their top scorers was four different players with only nine goals each! And that includes one of their centre backs.

Here’s hoping that elusive 20 goal poacher arrives soon, but if not, promotion can still be achieved.

A Good Start

The season is upon us and as with the other 71 Football League sides, they all believe its going to be their season to gain promotion. For Charlton Athletic and current manager, Karl Robinson it’s vital that they are playing Championship football in 12 months time.

To do that a good start is not imperative, but recent history with the club has shown that if you start well, you have a good chance of success. 92/93 the exception to the rule. (22 points from the first 10)

First Ten League Games in seasons which lead to promotion.

2011/2012

24 points

1999/2000

22 points

1997/1998

19 points

1985/1986

20 points

The first ten league games this season in League One for the squad available to the manager should be able to comfortably pick up 18 points minimum and be in the top 6. A nice start and confidence will be gained.

Home: Bristol Rovers, Northampton, Southend, Wigan and Bury

Away: Plymouth, Rotherham, Oldham, Gillingham and Walsall.

However as seen last season, an average start is hard to pick up from (12 points from the first ten) and Charlton only entered the top 6 once all season (5th after 4 games with 7 points back in August)

Slade was sacked in November and the season was pretty much over there and then.

This time around the squad is better, has more quality, and should be promoted at the end.

Get that good start, Mr Robinson, or the inevitable consequences may arise around November time once again.

Pre Season. Are results that important?

Pre season. Is it about fitness? Is it about formations? Is it about winning?

Well in my opinion it’s all of the above. Before the first home league of the game of the season, you want everyone 100% fit, raring to go, knowing what their role is in the team  and having a couple of decent wins in pre season, to have confidence on that Saturday at 3pm.

Already fans are questioning the recent tour of Ireland, with 3 games in 3 days, against 2 sides who have played over 20 games each in the top 2 tiers of Irish football and are near the end of their seasons (Runs from March – September) plus the current winners of the Leinster Senior League and like Charlton are in pre season.

Personally I would have liked to seen these games spread over a 5 day period, so the players are fresh for the next game. Pre season is not a holiday camp. It’s about hard graft, but 3 games in 72 hours does seem excessive.

Now to the results. One win and 2 defeats. The last one a 4-1 loss to the University side of Dublin, who play in the 2nd tier in Ireland.

If Charlton had won all 3 games, then social media would be full of views, that they will win League One at a canter, but it does not work like that. After the last 3 games, people are worried. Both wrong in my view.

Pre season in 1990, Charlton played Brentford, Exeter, Maidstone, Plymouth, Saltash United, Swansea and Welling. They won all 7 games, but when it came to the start of the League season, they were adrift at the bottom of the Second Division with One win from the first 11 games, plus knocked out the League Cup by Leyton Orient. The future of Lennie Lawrence was being questioned.

Pre season in 1993, results were a mixed bag, but a 2-1 home win against a full strength Arsenal team, must have been good for everyone’s confidence which then led into only one defeat from the first 14 League games.

You don’t get points for winning games in pre season, so why be over concerned. I would be more worried if we lost a couple of key players for 2/3 months, before the 5th August. If results don’t start well by the end of August, then be worried.

Enjoy pre season to meet up with old friends, have a few beers and watch a bit of football in the sun. Welling is always good for that. See you Saturday.

 

 

 

 

Promotion is a necessity!

The pre season games are now under way, with less than 4 weeks before the start of a new season. On the pitch, optimism is high, with three new signings and a new three year contract accepted by last year’s Player of the Year, Ricky Holmes. No one of any note has left so far, so after last season’s unacceptable performance from all concerned at the football club, promotion is a necessity in a league full of poor quality bar Blackburn Rovers.

Karl Robinson has done well this pre season to work with the budget he has been given, bringing in Mark Marshall on a free and other players on small fees. A goalkeeper and a left back are required to fit the remaining places in the squad, but I’m sure that will be in place in the next couple of weeks. Also he has been resticted due to the poor decisions  made by the club in the past, offering ridiculous long contracts and high wages to the likes of Naby Sarr and Jorge Teixiera, which are now difficult to get rid of and bring in some much needed funds to his transfer kitty.

However in my opinion, this is a make or break season for the opinionated and chatty Liverpudlian. Promotion back to the championship or be relinquished of his duties at the end of May. The owner’s record on managers in the past has always been good business for the local labour exchange.

This squad is up there with the League One winning team from 2011/2012. Like for like the players are as good or some  cases better.

2011/2012: Hamer, Solly, Wiggins, Cort, Morrison, Hollands, Stephens, Jackson, Wagstaff, Kermorgant, Wright- Phillips.

2017/2018: Phillips, Solly, Page, Bauer, Pearce, Kashi, Forster-Caskey, Marshall, Holmes, Watt, Magennis.

No one surely is looking at 101 points again, but there is no reason why this current squad cannot guarantee an average of two points per game and a top two place in League One, or at the very least a win at Wembley in the Play Off Final. Anything else and the season would have been another complete failure and totally unacceptable.

At 16/1 to win the League and 5/1 for promotion with some bookmakers, this should be easy money for anyone who likes a bet.

Off the pitch the same rumblings and going on’s continue. Season tickets sold around the 5,000 mark, 50% down on two seasons ago. The owner and Chief executive remain. Part of the ground has been closed due to lack of fans coming through the turnstiles. Different season ticket prices depending not on what stand you sit in, but different prices for different blocks in the same stand. Bar the ongoing work at the training ground and cheap season tickets in the Covered End, the rest is not ideal for a stable football club.

The protests are still around and looks highly likely that they are hear to stay until the owner sells, regardless of how well the team are doing. Some fans have made their points very clear and in some cases will not return to the Valley until he hands over the reins to someone else.

The dream scenario for Charlton fans this coming season would be promotion back to the Championship and new owners. However if we are looking at another season in League One in 12 months time, and no change in the ownership, then the anger is very likely to intensify.