Sunday, March 20, 2011

Low Point

"However 4 or even 6 points from the next two games would make everyone feel better about themselves, though of course then a really tough set of seven consecutive fixtures begins." (New York Addick, 11 Mar 2011)

When I wrote the above words, it genuinely never even occurred to me that we might conceivably lose our next two straightforward looking fixtures.

With 21st placed Walsall currently on only 39 points from fully 38 games, there is a strong likelihood that Charlton already have enough in the bag to ensure we at least avoid the ultimate humiliation this season.

The fact that Charlton have to travel to both Bristol Rovers (22nd) and Walsall before the season ends is highly uncomfortable, although I'm reassured by the fact that they both also face a tough-looking run-in.

Walsall are still to face MK Dons, Brighton and Southampton whilst Bristol Rovers must face Bournemouth (twice), Southampton and Peterborough.

The problem for Charlton however is its most difficult remaining fixtures are all front-loaded into the next 3 weeks, meaning that outright and debilitating panic may have set in by the time we head to Bristol's Memorial Stadium on Apr 23rd.

As I've repeated on this blog like a broken record, it's a miracle things are not even worse so fortunate were at least two of those opening four Powell-led wins.

When he was appointed I trusted my instinct and put £20 on us to get relegated at 50/1.

Some might call it a catastrophe 'hedge', but I'd prefer to call it a 'trade' on the fact that very few bookies had probably seen the garbage we had been putting out on a regular basis, even pre-Powell (and I wasn't inclined to think things were about to improve).

Charlton fans remain remarkably well-disposed towards Powell presumably out of genuine respect, despite a run of form which has rendered his position virtually untenable in my view.

Some unfortunately-timed injuries have not helped his cause, but he has had the benefit of a stronger squad than his predecessor to cope, as well as easy fixtures.

After the Peterborough win, the next eight fixtures (from which we generated a single point) were against teams then sitting in the following League positions: 13th, 12th, 20th, 16th, 17th, 7th, 15th, 22nd.

Charlton meanwhile were at the time sitting in 5th place, just six points behind Bournemouth in the automatic places, with fully three games in hand.

It would be disrespectful to describe the eight teams that comprised those fixtures as 'gift horses', but Powell didn't so much look them in the mouth as kiss them smack on the lips.

The consensus now seems to be (or is at least spun) that the squad he inherited wasn't good enough, and he deserves time to undertake a thorough rebuilding in the summer.

Yet as Michael Slater made clear on the day Powell was appointed, "With new owners and a fresh and dynamic manager in place, our goal now is promotion to the Championship."

Perhaps Slater genuinely did not imply promotion this season, but that would be an extremely generous intepretation. After all Parkinson had left us 5th in the table, and three points off 2nd.

He quite rightly might not have expected promotion, but he sure as hell didn't expect what is increasingly looking like a relegation battle.

So in order for me to believe that Powell deserves more time than the remainder of this season, I would need to understand why we have tailed off to such a remarkable degree, as well as what (other than financial considerations) justifies the belief that he's the right man to be given the rebuilding task.

To just allow this season to be written off as inconsequential, would be highly disrespectful to the loyal fans who've paid up good money (often well in advance) to watch the charade of the past two months.

The players who are now booed off for lack of effort and accused of being unfit for the shirt, were not so long ago acknowledged at least for being whole-hearted, albeit lacking in quality.

I didn't detect a lack of heart for example at Spurs in the Cup, or on the various occasions we took points despite having ten men this season.

Meanwhile I continue to be amazed by the extent to which some fans' view of Powell is affected by the fact that he was once a playing legend, a view at once both true and utterly irrelevant.

The new Board are probably less concerned about Powell's cult status, but nonetheless troubled by thoughts of how best to 'save face' having taken such an ill-considered risk with his appointment, so early in their stewardship.

Yet worryingly decisions made to save face, may not be those that are best for the club.

When equally difficult decisions had to be made about the appointments then dismissals of Dowie, Reed, and Pardew, the Board at that time had a largely impressive record of ongoing progress to point to.

If the Board asked to be trusted then, I was inclined to do so (even if hindsight taught me I was wrong). I'm not so sure now.


At 10:18 PM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

I doubt you're looking for this, but,

"You told us so!"

I wasn't sure it was the right decision at the time, now I'm convinced it wasn't.

However, I have even less conviction as to where we should go from here.

It's a mess, and I now wish I'd put money on us going down and from where I'm looking it looks likely, not just possible.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous NewYorkAddick said...

KHA, i will never say "i told you so" because i insist that decisions are judged at the time they're made, not with the benefit of hindsight.

However having made a poor decision, the worst thing the Board can do is compound it.

At 12:11 AM, Anonymous CharltonChris said...

Well here's one for the stat-men.

When was the last time Charlton took 1 point from a possible 24? Of course it will be one point from 30 after the next 2 games.

It's been utter humiliation to be frank, especially against the class of opposition. I'd have backed us to get more than a point if we'd have played the last 7 league games against premiership opposition. Purely on the basis that it would mean more to the players so their effort output would increase.

They don't want to compete at this level, or can't get themselves up for games then fuck them off. No messing around.

When your computer goes tits up then you can guarantee that your IT helpdesk at work will tell you to perform a power cycle before doing anything else. The whole club needs a shutdown and restart.

(And Powell out obviously, but I assumed that's a given)

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Ray McDonald said...

I think that Powell's "legendary" status as a player will be reconsidered by those who espouse it, when it comes to actually writing the cheque for next years season ticket. At the moment its convenient to blame lack of quality of the players he inherited.

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Tom Weeks said...

Whilst Iain Dowie had few supportes in his time at The Valley (me included), there is no way the 12 or so games he had in charge were adequate enough for a new manager coming into a club. We are in danger of making the same mistake again.

I do not subscribe to the theory that Charlton are in a relegation battle, forget the points - look at the amount of teams in between us and the zone. They will not all go on a run, they are not down there by coincidence and the law of averages where anyone can beat anyone suggests we will pick up a few points soon.

I do not see any reason to sack Powell now, it will not achieve anything apart from another big pay-off, of which Charlton have made far too many over the last few years. If form continues to be poor then I guess he will not be trusted to re-build in the Summer and be dsimissed but not now.

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...


You may well be right, but the numbers are rather worrying. If you are interested take a look at the analysis I have carried out.

If the players really have given up we could well find ourselves still needing points with two games to go, one of which is away to Walsall.

NYA, I hope you don't mind me putting a link in your comments for my blog, but I thought it was relevant.

At 3:02 PM, Anonymous Tom Weeks said...

Interesting analysis KHA, so the play-off's are still a possibility :-) I certainly won't be going out and putting a bet on us to beat Southampton tomorrow night but football sometimes has a way of doing the funniest things when you least expect it.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

No problem KHA. My revenue protection team will be in touch.


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