It was another battling performance at the Ricoh Arena today and we had the chances to have won it - Nicky Bailey saw his shot deflected onto a post late on - but Rob Elliot also made two very good saves to keep us in it during the first period of the second half. Phil Parkinson is talking about how good this current team is now looking and has told the Newsshopper he expects us to bounce back next season with promotion. I guess that's to be expected from a man whose job hangs in the balance but the interesting thing for me has been his team selection over the last few weeks. He has stuck with his senior pros, including the loanees and the team has had some consistency for the first time this season. Our midfield is looking strong and, so, it has to be said, has the defence recently. It's just upfront where we have been seriously lacking and that has lead to a formation change to a preferred 4-5-1 home and away.
Addicks fans have been asking for youngsters to be blooded and for Parkinson to start sending out sides that might more closely reflect what we are likely to field come August. It remains to be seen what he does in the last four games, but his options look limited as most of the obvious candidates have been loaned out for the remainder of the season in any event. Perhaps Parky has been assured of sufficient finances to secure the contracts of Ward and Butterfield as well as to hang onto the nucleus of the midfield. If the club is to stop the rot, you hope this is the case, however, I am struggling to see it. Darren Ward will have ambitions above League One as may Mark Hudson. Zheng Zhi will have to leave on the grounds of his PL wages and I don't believe we will be able to afford to resist offers for Bailey or Shelvey if they come. On top of all that, we really need to spend what we can afford on someone who can score goals because we will struggle with the present incumbents next year, even in League One. Tresor Kandol's brace against Watford on 7th March were the only goals scored by a Charlton striker since Andy Gray last played in December - a depressing stat.
I've been watching the Millwall v Peterborough game as I write this and could see us struggling against either of these sides as things stand, let alone with a significantly weaker squad of players (Dave Martin has just made Millwall's second goal and has been the star of the game - him the son of a diehard Charlton family). An injection of significant funds into the club looks the only way we are likely to challenge in League One next season. We have to hope it's not through the sale of our remaining best players as that is a double-edged sword, although it's looking inevitable without a Boardroom takeover.
Finally, spare a thought for Luton Town who were relegated from the football league today after their very harsh points fine by the authorities at the start of the season that made it almost inevitable. They've never been one of my favourite clubs but not one I'd ever have envisaged dropping out. The warning is there for all of us.