Friday, 10 February 2017

Will they, won't they?

Ahead of the newest south London derby match against Wimbledon tomorrow, Charlton fans look divided between those who believe there is a realistic chance of the play-offs and those who don't. What amuses me most is that those in the hopeful camp all seem to agree that the reason we are still in with a shout is the paucity of quality opposition in the division. The fact that we are unbeaten in six league matches (three draws and three wins) is also giving hope but we do need to take the season as a whole into consideration and look at the strengths and weaknesses of our squad.

The bottom line is we simply haven't been good enough to seriously compete at the top end and we sit bang in the middle of the table because we have a League One squad of players. For most of the season our central midfield has lacked any pace or a dual threat from the flanks which has meant we have struggled to score goals from the front. Our top scorer doesn't trouble the division's top 15 and Magennis only moved onto 8 recently after the departure of the then top scorer Lookman who had netted seven and the loaning out of then second-top scorer Ajose who somehow managed to score six.

Our wage-bill adjustments in January meant we have some new faces who have added some much needed pace to the centre but we still look unbalanced left to right and clearly lack forward goal prowess or too many options when we are left with Magennis, Novak, Watt and the youngsters. I think Ahearne-Grant may be injured but he's not yet shown enough quality to hold a place or prove he has goals in him. Hanlan is even further behind KAG in terms of games under his belt and has been loaned out to Bromley which leaves us with the three experienced pros. Magennis and Novak are similar hold-up, line leaders and both really need a faster partner alongside them to be able to play 4-4-2. That isn't Watt either who is at his best running at the last defender and typically better coming in from the left or right. This was a problem we clearly failed to address in the January window and I believe will cost us any realistic chance of sniffing the play-offs.

In midfield Crofts has looked a better player with Forster-Caskey and Joe Aribo around. Ricky Holmes is also coming back to form but he often has a free role switching from left to right and is often guilty of over-playing which doesn't help the side build attacking momentum. The jury is still out on Botaka and I think we need to see more of Byrne. What we have seen of Dasilva suggests he's not ready yet. When you consider we have also seen defenders Konsa and Chicksen in midfield, you can see the shortage of any sort of consistency or satisfaction with team shape and performances.

Far too often this season we simply haven't been good enough and I can count the decent performances on one hand and a couple of those have been in one half of the match. We have largely been competitive, which has manifested all those draws but I don't believe that's enough to make the play-offs, let alone promotion.

Wimbledon came from behind to beat us at the Valley in September. That result sent us down to 14th in the table and I can see a repeat tomorrow despite their recent indifferent form. Charlton have a long history of relieving the suffering of opponents - look at Millwall, whose 3-1 victory over us before Christmas has spurred them on the the 5th round of the F A Cup and moved them to the play-off fringes proper. In my head I have heard opposition through the years saying "it's alright, we have Charlton in a fortnight's time" and more-often-than-not we have duly obliged.

I wonder what the mood will be like come the end of March when this season will be over and the club prepares, once again, to clear-out half the squad and start again? It really has become Groundhog Day under Roland Duchatelet. We are also getting to the point where numbers attending matches threatens dropping below the tipping point when nobody can be bothered to do anything about it.

So I am delighted to see the troops rallying to put it on Duchatelet once again in St. Truiden. The stubborn Septagenarian may well continue to grin and bear it but sitting at home saying it's hopeless protesting is akin to putting your fingers in your ears and shouting 'la-la-la' hoping it will all get better on it's own.

Go on Charlton, prove me wrong.


  1. Just realised that I titled this thread "will they, won't they?" Four years ago I would have said "will we, won't we?" A sign of the times...

  2. I noticed that Dave. The most heartbreaking thing I've read for a long time.

    They say it's the hope that kills you. Not much chance of that anymore!


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