Sunday 21 January 2018

Charlton Athletic 3 v Walsall 1

After a horrendous December and hangover start to the year, Charlton Athletic recorded their third successive league victory with a 3-1 win over Walsall which keeps them in 6th place and has closed the gap on the three sides above them. Rotherham and Portsmouth continue to breathe down our neck but 6th today looked unlikely after Gillingham beat us at the Valley on New Years Day.

In front of a laughable official attendance of over 10,000, Charlton took a first-half lead through Joe Aribo, who now appears to have found his eye for goal, which will bring the sharks closer to our tank. Walsall duly equalised through former Academy youngster Erhan Oztumer and after that it was a game of who could score next. Walsall continued to create chances but it was the Addicks who looked more like scoring next. Mavididi had already struck the bar when Magennis headed onto a post. The winner came through a Roberts own-goal and Mavididi got his second for Charlton at the death to wrap things up. Tarique Fosu made a telling substitute appearance which raises hope of more goals in the coming weeks than we have been able to muster in his absence.

The next three games will present more of a challenge than the last three, with away trips to Blackpool and Wimbledon but we have a very winnable home game against Oxford United in between. Six points from those should see us maintain sixth place but I think that might be a tall order.

Away from the football, Richard Murray took time out to respond to some questions from the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust leadership. The summary of the conversation here matched what the club have put out (not that they didn't trust the Trust of course) and whilst many are disappointed, I have to say Murray has certainly given us more than I expected. Confirmation of two firm bids and a view on the timeline is helpful and whilst it's only his view at the moment, I do think it gives us a position and some expectations and he will know more any of us even if he isn't a confidante of Duchatelet. His best view of a February sale fits with the decision not to backfill the Chief Exec or Finance Director and Duchatelet's actions thus far in the transfer window, although he was at pains to make it clear that this was only his opinion. You or I might be forgiven for having reached the conclusion that the deal would have been this month for the same rationale. The elephant in the room was any detail or speculation on the price Duchatelet is rumoured to be asking for the club and the huge gap to any firm offers. I didn't expect Murray to comment on that but I had hoped it would be asked (even if he was obviously going to claim no knowledge) and it does give him an out downstream if the club isn't sold although logic screams that Duchatelet's best time to sell is now however much less he is being offered than he has lost on his ownership.

Less convincing for me is his response to minimising the loss of players in the January window. In typical Uncle Richard style, he tries to reassure us that he would call Roland out "forcibly" on the need for key replacements and that his chances of convincing him to spend were "good." That ignores the very obvious fact that this wasn't the result over Carruthers when Holmes was flogged cheaply to the Blades. He also reinforces that point by justifying Holmes' sale by saying that we have lots of midfielders and need a striker to "help Magennis."

So, we stagger on hoping for the best. Good takeover news aside, we probably ought to concentrate on the next three league and see if we can maintain a very unlikely looking play-off place. If Duchatelet doesn't sell before the season ends, I think we will see the season ticket numbers step down significantly once again and real gates next season drop below 5,000 which would see our new-low historic status under Duchatelet cemented and turn us into a proper middle-of-the-road League One club as an epitaph to his disastrous reign. 'Competitive in League One with a constant fear of relegation.'

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