Friday 19 March 2021

New Beginnings

The Adkins era starts in earnest tomorrow as we take on Wimbledon as we return to Plough Lane.

Clearly, one can’t draw any real conclusions from tomorrow’s performance and result. Following the game we have a two week break which will serve Adkins well. It affords him the opportunity to work with players and get across his ideas and style of play.

It is very much another must win game although it won’t be easy of course. This season more than most we have struggled to beat teams in the bottom third of the league.

In addition, the Dons are fighting for League One survival as we enter the final straight so to speak.

For our part in this final few games we really need to have a rich harvest of points especially given the games in hand that those around us have.

When we return to action on Good Friday it will be a truer reflection of our position as the other teams catch up.

A couple of weeks ago we would have totally written off our play-off chances but following more consistent results from us and more inconsistent one from those around us, it remains a possibility.

It will be interesting to see how we set up tomorrow. Adkins may have let Jackson choose the team or at least be swayed by his opinions.

I’d like to see Chuks return to the starting line up in place of Stockley. So often he has to come on when we’re chasing the game. It’s a real waste and we don’t use him to our best advantage.

I’m puzzled as to Purrington’s continued absence. He ought to come straight back into the team.

Millar of late, hasn’t looked the same player that started his spell with us so well. DJ probably deserves a start ahead of him.

Those three changes aside (given Matthews injury) I’d go for how we set up on Tuesday.

Pigott has hit a bit of a goal drought of late but of course it’d be no surprise if he scores against us again tomorrow.

The win is probably more important than it’s manner. It’ll keep us in the play-off hunt. The management team can then focus on work on the training ground, addressing any injuries and start some work on contract negotiations.

The break gives a chance to refresh and re-focus minds on the run in. Our final league fixtures are all tough games but with those sides playing catch up there’s no reason to think we oughtn’t win them.

It would be fantastic if not remarkable, if we ended the season with another Wembley final.

Come On You Reds!

Thursday 18 March 2021

A Missed Opportunity

Nigel Adkins it is then. He was far from the top of my list but he’s here now and deserves a chance and full support. Let’s see how he goes. I’m quite happy to eat humble pie if he proves successful.

All that aside, I do feel we’ve missed an opportunity with Jacko. He has all the credentials and attributes to be a good manager and especially so at this level and at our club.

He’s widely respected at Charlton and beyond and he seemingly has a good relationship with everyone connected with the club.

Jacko’s career has been spent almost entirely at Championship and League One level. It is further reason why I think he’s qualified to do the job.

Some people believe he’s not ready yet. I believe he is and he has more experience than both Bowyer and Nathan Jones, who’ve done ok.

All that aside you never really know until you give someone a go.

It’s clearly good that Jacko’s staying at the club. It would have been criminal to lose him as well as Bowyer. My joy at that is tempered by the fact that he is ambitious and won’t want to be an assistant for too much longer.

It won’t be long before a club comes a calling and he goes. I’m sure we’d all love to see him manage Charlton.

Good luck to Adkins but will we live to regret not giving Johnnie a go now? Time will tell……..

Wednesday 17 March 2021


 If Johnnie gets the gig full time, then on first evidence things aren’t going to be dull!

Aside from starting with Chuks instead of Stockley, I couldn’t fault his starting eleven (assuming Purrington is injured?).

Quite why Aneke isn’t starting games still is a mystery. This is probably the most injury-free season he’s ever had and perversely, maybe the least he’s played!

Anyway, that’s probably being a bit too picky. Following the usual defensive howlers at home, we eventually settled into the game.

All credit to Shinnie for making something out of nothing to pull one back. A great piece of skill to create and score that.

JFC had clearly been listening to Steve Brown as to where to send his free kick. Again,  good technique to score that.

Rovers dominated the opening period and as has been observed, could easily have been 3 or 4 nil up.

Maatsen had no need to make the challenge he did that led to their penalty. He had no real chance to get the ball. The young man needs to learn and at the other end of the pitch too, where a couple of times he hindered Millar’s runs.

Until we see the Rovers second from behind the goal we’ll never truly know why Amos so spectacularly failed to deal with Upson’s shot. As they said on Valley Pass, it must have swerved an awful lot.

Having levelled things up before half-time even the most cynical of Charlton fans would have felt we would go on to win.

So it came to be of course, as we dominated the second period although one did wonder if we would get our reward for it.

Jacko just about got the subs right. Millar was fairly lacklustre and seemingly tiring and DJ immediately introduced more pace and had a pretty good cameo.

Chuks did what you’d expect him to and created havoc against a tiring Rovers defence. I think we can credit him and not the post, for the assist for Washington’s goal.

Connor has a great game and his tireless running and movement caused problems all night for the Gas.

Matches like last night’s aren’t good for my nerves but if this is a taste of what it’ll be like with Jacko in charge, then more please! 

At the end of the game I couldn't help but think of Ketts (Dr Kish) and how he'd have loved that Jacko was in charge and got a result like that. Johnnie was his favourite player and he'd have been proud and chuffed to witness that.

None of us knows Thomas’s thinking and just how prepared he’d be to take a chance on a rookie. I’d like to think that he’d give Johnnie serious consideration.

All managers have to start somewhere. He knows the staff, players, fans, the club and it’s history better than most. He’s spent almost his entire career in the 2nd and 3rd tiers.

Jackson is a man manager who can get the best out of players. He was never given to histrionics as a player and captain. He just led by example and quietly inspired others. I'm sure he'd been the same as manager.

Johnnie comes across as unassuming which is a good quality but I hope when he next talks to Thomas he states his credentials and expresses his desire to the job full time.

If I were Thomas I’d at least give him to season’s end. We’ve had a little insight into what we might expect and I’d like to see more!  

Monday 15 March 2021

The End Of An Era

 Really saddened to see Lee Bowyer leave the club. He can do so with his head held high.

He delivered us promotion and that fantastic day at Wembley and so nearly kept us in the Championship against all the odds. If he hadn’t been betrayed by those who refused to play on after the hiatus for the virus then clearly he would have succeeded in that regard.

Bowyer was almost a broken man at the end of last season. Made of strong stuff he came back at the start of this one and again performed miracles against the backdrop of the ongoing disastrous ownership now allied to a pandemic, great!

Bowyer showed incredible loyalty to us throughout his time as manager. Sadly, not all fans felt they it ought to be reciprocated.

As I’ve said for a while this is no season to judge any manager. How does one prepare for situations like this?

In Lee’s case so many players left after last season, we were under a transfer embargo and then had a salary cap thrown in to boot!

The club’s very existence was under threat too but hey ho, let’s not cut the man too much slack because we got a new owner and the expectation of instant success isn’t too much is it?

I won't forget everything he’s done and wish him well in the future.

As good a prospect as our club is for most managers I don’t expect us to attract the big name managers that some are touting around.

That aside I think we ought to give the job to Johnnie. He has great man management skills aside from a vast amount of experience mostly gained in this league and the one above.

Jackson is an intelligent man who always talks sense. He also loves the club; in fact he lives and breathes it.

Jacko has a great connection with the fans too of course. He’s a man who you’d be proud to have as our manager and is a fantastic role model.

I know some will say he lacks experience but he has been assistant for a long time now. That aside, he has greater experience than Nathan Jones did when he got the Luton job and Nathan's done pretty well.

Give it to Jacko!

Thursday 11 March 2021

A Man For All Seasons

5pm on the last Saturday in February and all was gloom and doom in S.E.7. The Addicks had just suffered a 3-0 loss to Blackpool with two players red carded.

If you believed the Twitterati, the players didn’t care and Lee Bowyer should be banished from S.E.7 because he’d clearly lost the dressing room.

A new manager was needed and they were going to instantly turn around our fortunes and lead straight back up to the Championship.

That’s the narrative that some fans would have you believe.

Fast forward to today and things, thankfully look a little better and a more rational point of view would seem to be in order.

You’ll gather from the above that I’ve never felt that ridding ourselves of a manager who has performed miracles and shown incredible loyalty against the hideous backdrop in a vicious pandemic and similar previous ownership was a good idea.

I’m quite prepared and happy to admit that Bowyer has made mistakes this season having previously been almost faultless in the past.

It’s easy to forget that he is still learning his trade and there are aspects of his management that need refining. Not least amongst these is appreciating that not all players are in his own image and can be motivated in the same way.

Personally I’m aware of several professional footballers who don’t like the game that much. Away from the pitch they’ve no interest in watching games and don’t really follow it all.

That has come as a surprise to me but in reality it ought not to be. I’m sure there are many who are good in their particular field and enjoy their occupation. However, does it occupy their every waking moment? I suspect not.

It should be remembered too that the best players don’t always make the best coaches and managers. Largely that’s because they had a natural talent and won’t necessarily appreciate how hard some have to work to reach the top.

Similarly, they won’t always have a burning desire or hunger that others have. Events and circumstances shape our lives and a hard life or tough background can produce great desire and drive to escape from it.

Bowyer has also made mistakes with team selection and formations. Funnily enough though a number of us are wise after the event!

In this, of all seasons, any manger is deserving of a little latitude. Lee is probably deserving of more than most though.

The uncertainty and squabbling with the ownership, a decimated squad following the refusal to play and departure of a number of players, the salary cap, empty stadia etc. are unlikely to give the firm foundations to launch a promotion campaign.

No real pre-season and no opportunity to really bond players and get the team spirit that one usually associates with the Charlton team.

The constant slog of two games a week leaving little time to plan and work through styles of play doesn’t help much either.

Players exist in bubbles and don’t get a chance to mix outside of the sterile football environment.

All these issues are contributing factors to making this a unique and unpredictable season.

The arrival of Thomas led, I think, to some fans losing sight of reality and expectations rose disproportionately. For whatever reason ( it may include some of the factors mentioned above ) our January acquisitions haven’t really hit the ground running.

Yes, we have a good squad and in the normal course of events we ought to expect to be in a better position. However, these are not normal times.

It’s best to see where this season takes us and if we should get in to the play-offs then we need to acknowledge how well we’ve done and see where we go from there.

If not, then we ought to accept our fate with good grace and look forward to, hopefully, a more normal season next time and that we can be there in person to witness it.

The Shrews are next up on Saturday and one hopes that having secured a home win on Tuesday we can make it back to back home victories.

Shrewsbury are in a run of very indifferent form but as with any team in league one they shouldn’t be underestimated and we know it will be tough like all the rest.

Here’s hoping for another 3 points at home!

Come on you reds!

Thursday 4 March 2021

University Challenge

The Addicks find themselves back on the road again on Saturday and that can only be a good thing. The benefits of playing at home clearly don’t apply in a pandemic as can be evidenced across the top 4 tiers of English football.

I don’t do many away games but have made the trip to the Kazzam a few times in recent years mainly because it’s close to home. At least I won’t have to endure the endless post-match wait in the car park this season!

We find ourselves reunited with Robinson whose only useful contribution to our club was the recruitment of Lee Bowyer. I really don’t miss those pre and post-match interviews full of sound bites and rhetoric as they were.

My last recollection of him was departing down the tunnel after a dreadful 0-0 draw on one of the coldest days known to man. He was grinning away probably safe in the knowledge that within the following few days he was off to Oxford.

From a dreadful start to the season Robinson has somehow managed to get Oxford up the league. This may, in part, have been down to the postponement of many games earlier in the season that afforded them more rest.

United are now playing catch up not helped by a run to the semi-finals of the pizza cup that incurred more games of course.

Despite that the U’s have been on a decent run with, I believe, a loss of only 2 league games in the last 17 matches. More recently they haven’t won in 5 games in drawing 3 and losing 2 whilst scoring only once.

In the home game keeper Simon Eastwood was at fault for at least one of our goals. He turned in a string of poor performances following it and we dropped soon after. He hasn’t found his way back since as his replacement, Jack Stevens, has been on top form. Indeed, he produced a man of the match performance on Tuesday in shutting out the Posh in a 0-0 draw.

Injuries are now taking their toll on Oxford though. Influential midfielder, Marcus McGunae, looks set to be missing for some time. Similarly too, experienced winger James Henry and striker Sam Winnall are both likely to be absent.

Tuesday’s game saw two more players get early baths due to injury. Eliot Lee appears to have a nasty knee injury and Sam Long has pulled a hammy. Neither is expected to feature on Saturday.

United have a local derby against rivals Swindon on Tuesday and that may play a part in Robinson’s team selection although he is somewhat limited as a result of the aforementioned injuries.

As far as the Addicks are concerned then clearly one hopes that Aneke is fit to play. Unless Stockley gets decent service, which is pretty rare, then we don’t carry much of a threat up front in his absence.

As good a finisher as he is, Schwartz doesn’t seem able to make an impact and offers next to nothing in  terms of assists.

Washington has failed to impress after a good start to the season. One might say there are mitigating circumstances with ever changing strike partners which I get. However, of late, he’s not done enough for me.

Tuesday’s win, albeit against the bottom team, was important as was the clean sheet. We can but hope we’ve turned a corner.

Whether it’s enough to dispel rumours that the players aren’t happy with Bowyer or playing for him only time will tell. However, despite the call from some fans to dispense with the manager, I’d guess that Thomas hasn’t any plans to do so.

On that basis alone, I’d suggest it would serve the club well for all fans to get behind the team and the manager until at least season end.

This game will be a good assessment of where we are and although a play-off spot would appear to be beyond, us a strong end to the season is important in terms of future plans.

Come On You Reds!