Close seasons are typically a time for optimism but this year must take the biscuit. After the relative disappointment of the second-half of last year it was hard to see what our Board could do to restore the belief among our dwindling fan-base short of splashing really big money which they readily admit we either don't have or are not prepared to do. Chris Powell was looking holed beneath the water-line and many Powellites had turned their backs on him as we slumped to a 13th place finish.
However, less than three months later and without spending huge sums of money or attracting any big name players the fans are buzzing. Chris Powell is still here and talk of moving him on have been quietly forgotten. In fact, he's actually being credited with the swathe of young signings we have made and for fashioning a couple of decent friendly showings so far. The Board have also invested in the back-room team and as long as Paul Hart's arrival isn't an unsettling influence, we can have no complaints.
Season ticket sales have crept up to the 7,500 mark and are less than 2000 short of last year's starting position with a couple of weeks to go during which we can expect a mini-surge from last-minuters.
The club have launched a new away shirt which for once is attracting universally popular acclaim and even our postponed home friendly against Reading has been trumped with the announcement yesterday that Dutch outfit Den Bosch will visit the Valley on Tuesday 26th July.
Expectation can be a huge burden but it's far better than low-morale and hopelessness. Addicks appear to be convincing themselves that this it the year and that five years of steady decline will finally be arrested and our club will be restored to where we belong a a minimum - in the Championship. Perhaps it's the hope of youth but the prospect of getting up with a maturing side is far more appealing than squeaking it with an ageing one short of the quality or opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Norwich City.