Monday 12 August 2019

...Charlton enter the Twilight Zone...

Who'd have thought it? Not me that's for sure! Two games in and maximum points.

I have previously alluded to the 52 mark being the points haul required to keep us in the division, and rather fastidiously worked through the fixture list predicting where we could genuinely and historically hope to pick points up, bringing me to conclude we'd finish on 51, hopefully just enough to avoid the drop.

I'd had us gaining just the one point at home to Stoke out of our opening two weekends. How wrong was I?  Thankfully completely wrong. So we are currently tracking five points ahead of my projections already.

What struck me whilst at The Valley for our opening home game, was how improved and more self assured as a side we looked.  The new signings, even those that have been with the rest of the squad for just a few days, settling in well.  It took a while last season for Bowyers hastily assembled last minute squad to really gel and get that momentum going that saw us eventual play off winners. I'm sure that the new incoming squad members still need time to fully assimilate themselves into the Bowyer way of doing things.  Once they have, the mind boggles at what we could possibly achieve based on what we've seen so far.

Feels a bit weird being so positive in a post what with experience over recent years.  Not just about how we've started the season, but also about the transfer window itself.

Following on from Aribo's departure north of the border we saw Dijksteel go to Middlesborough. A pretty negative occurrence, and does leave right back as potentially the weakest link in the first team with a relentless schedule of games and no natural cover. However the continued rejections of  bids from Brentford, Boro (again) and apparently Bristol City for big sums of money for the services of Lyle Taylor were, to put it simply, most out of character for our current owner.

We have then gone on to make some quality loan signings, by no means are any of these guys here to make up the numbers and warm the bench.  There is real competition throughout the squad for starting places. We even had a late big money (well big for Duchalet) bid turned down for Peterborough's Ivan Toney.  The word from Bowyer was that the aim was that Toney would play alongside Taylor and wasn't planned to be a direct replacement for the Charlton idol. This would have been funded by the money received for Dijksteele.

Strange days indeed down in SE7.

As for the game itself (apologies if this is your first time reading this blog, I don't do blow for blow match reports, there are others much better at delivering that type of information), Once we'd got through the first twenty minutes or so of Stoke probing and testing us out we grew into the game. Taylor, whose attitude following on from what must have been quite a difficult and frustrating week for him, showed why he is lorded so much by the Addicks faithful.  100 per cent commitment to the cause and another tireless performance capped off with scoring our opening goal and setting up our third.

After the disappointment of conceding an equaliser, once the second half went underway we slowly worked ourselves into a position where we began to dominate the game.  When possession was lost the team to a man worked hard to regain it.  And once Aneke scored his debut goal there only looked like being one winner.

A marvellous performance was capped off for Gallagher when he finished from Taylor's lay off to see us out 3-1 winners. No weak links to report at this point.

Final word to the twelfth man. All 15 odd thousand of them.  If you compare the atmosphere to that of the Pre Bowyer days under Duchalet, it is completely different. Momentum carried through from last seasons run in combined with the players attitude and style of football we are getting to watch make The Valley an exciting place to be right now.

Lets see where we can all take this season now.

Friday 2 August 2019's the magic number!

It seems like such a long time since the Euphoria of May 26th.

We've seen a variety of takeover false dawns, various interviews on talksport and official club website statements from Roland Duchalet. The strange, strange man, bemoaning the EFL and blaming everyone else for his inability to find a buyer willing to pay his vastly over inflated price for the club.

We now face the beginning of the Championship campaign.  Plenty of players, key ones in last seasons team at that, have gone. However we have seen incoming, including the highly rated Connor Gallagher from Chelsea being announced today.

My personal opinion is that with the players left from last season, those that Lee Bowyer and his backroom team have bought in, and I hope three or four more quality loan signings (Bowyer and Gallen do seem to have a knack of finding loanee's who don't just make up the numbers but have a positive impact on the squad), we will be not only be alright but may surprise one or two. Hopefully starting with Blackburn Rovers.  A team whom I personally cannot stand.

I won't do an in depth preview of the season, fellow blogger 'Chicago Addick' has done that quite thoroughly here , here and  here. It is one of the toughest divisions to predict accurately, and seems to throw up 'dark horses' year after year.

Sky Sports polled supporters opinions (receiving a massive response from Charlton fans i'd assume) to compile a predicted final table for this seasons Championship, i'd be more than happy with the predicted 8th place finish for The Addicks.

The bottom line is that we are back in The Championship, after another three years stuck in the third tier.  The primary objective must be avoiding relegation.

Looking back over several seasons 52 would be the average points total required to finish fourth from bottom and avoid the dreaded drop zone. 50 has been mentioned as the target number of points.

Based on the above we need to achieve the magic number of 13 to stay up.  13 wins and 13 draws.

Looking at who we traditionally do alright against i'm predicting 12 wins and 14 drawers will see us finishing on exactly 50 points.  Which will hopefully be enough to keep us up.  Based on when the games are played against the team I think we'll pick these points up it'll be the final home game against Wigan Athletic that will see us hit the 50 mark.  My hope is that by this point we would have already 'crossed the line' by the skin of our teeth due to others falling well short of the magic 50.

October could be the toughest month of games based on my predicted results.  What will be critical to our survival is Duchalet holding his nerve and sticking with Bowyer when we do go on winless runs.  And there will be a few of these during our first season back in the division that has been our natural home over the years.

If the results go the way I think they could, throw in some surprises against the well established promotion candidates and we could see a more respectable points haul, and something closer to 56-59, which would see us well clear of the relegation places.

One thing I do know, regardless of ownership issues, regardless of a (currently) thin squad, regardless of the doom and gloom merchants, I'm excited and looking forward to the season ahead. The above is my anticipated worst case scenario.  Bring it on.

In Bowyer we trust.