A week before the new season kicks off and the jury considering our promotion prospects is well and truly split. It's fair to say that our Summer transfer activity to date has been on the disappointing side thus far but there is still time for it to hit the mark.
So far our transfer policy looks to have changed in one respect for the better; signings to date have been permanents and have included the loan-to-permanent signing of Jayden Stockley and the option to convert Akin Fameyo from a loan to a permanent. I like the fact that two year terms have also been our preference. That gives us the chance to limit our exposure in the event of under-performance and incentivises first year showings to encourage in-term contract extensions.
The issue thus far has not been so much about quality, but rather of quantity. The players we have signed are, I believe, up to the job of this division and are relatively young and experienced. MacGillivray, Dobson, Famewo, Clare and even Stockley (29) fit that criteria. We do remain four or five short and unless and until they arrive, we are going to have to rely on the Academy. We have already seen more of some of the Academy players in pre-season than ever before and they have acquitted themselves well enough. The big question remains, however, will we get all the players the supporters believe we need to have strong enough squad to maintain a promotion challenge or will we have to rely on Academy players to do it?
Expectations have been set. Thomas Sandgaard has always been a tad cautious in terms of spending ambition, and I think the majority have welcomed that. However, a year ago he said the aim was the Premier League within five years and he has also talked about European football. If the PL dream target is to become a reality we can't afford to spend the first three years in League One.
The EFL transfer window is open until 2nd September, by which time we will have played the first five league games of the season. It looks like Nigel Adkins will suck it and see to some extent and that we are likely to be holding out for a crack at higher division loan players who may yet find themselves surplus to requirements when their clubs conclude their transfer business.
As I have said before, I trust us to bring those players in because Sandgaard and Adkins have too much to lose if we don't, although I am sure we would have all felt far happier if we already had a more settled squad and were ready to hit the season running at full pace.
There has been much noise about the transfer activity of rivals Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic who have been making plenty of decent looking signings, a number of whom were either linked with us or players we would have liked to have seen at the Valley. However, most of the other sides in our division have been very similar to us and it's worth knowing that Wigan only had six professionals left before their recruitment began.
The bookies have us as fifth or sixth favourites for promotion - play-off contenders - that would probably satisfy Adkins and Sandgaard. Ipswich's spending has pushed them to favourite status with Sunderland, although Makem fans appear as split as Addicks and for the same reasons. Portsmouth and Wigan are also at the top end and Sheffield Wednesday get a higher billing than they probably deserve because they have just come down. Outside those, there is a long list of clubs that belong in League One or Two and whom we should expect a competitive Charlton side to beat throughout the season - Morecombe, Cheltenham, Cambridge Utd, Accrington Stanley, AFC Wimbledon, Crewe, Burton, Fleetwood, Wycombe, Doncaster, Oxford Utd, Lincoln, Shrewsbury. It really shouldn't be a frightening list.
Personally, I think a proven goalscorer is our top priority and I would like to see someone here ahead of the opener but I don't expect that to happen. We have to have more goals in the side because we simply don't have enough at the moment - not for a serious promotion challenge. A left-sided full-back and left sided winger are needed as options and I would like to see another combatitive, attacking midfielder. Through a long season there would still be opportunities for the likes of Elerewe, Ghandour, Claydon and Davison to gain first team experience and show us what they can do.