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!
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