Charlton failed to prevent a third consecutive loss on Saturday, as they succumbed 3-0 to an in-form Burnley at Turf Moor. A goal from Danny Ings 5 minutes before the break was followed up by a second half brace from strike-partner Sam Vokes, as the free scoring Clarets cemented their position near the top of the Championship. At the opposite end of the table, Powell’s men again struggled to cope without the likes of Kermorgant and Solly; with upcoming fixtures against Nottingham Forest, Blackpool, Blackburn and Wigan, the games don’t get any easier for an Addicks side whose confidence is at a low, and are clearly lacking any depth.
Following the fantastic end to last season, questions were raised as to whether Charlton would need to invest much over the summer. However, the restrictive nature of the current board meant that Powell had little chance to add to his side, and with injuries to key players, it’s hard to see where the Addicks are going to pick up points over the coming months. Whilst Kermorgant’s late cameo against Burnley will please fans, the worrying over-dependency with which Charlton rely on the talismanic Frenchman is also cause for concern.
Powell is clearly having issues with his formation, and altered things yet again at Turf Moor. The Addicks played in a 4-5-1 formation, with Pritchard and Stewart either side of Stephens, Cousins and Gower. With Gower still unconvincing, if this is the formation that Powell sticks with, Johnnie Jackson or Callum Harriott could replace him. Most likely with Kermorgant fit again, the Addicks will return to two up front, as he rejoins Church, whose goal scoring instinct has fallen away in recent weeks. The major worry is that the side have changed from 4-4-2 through 3-5-2 and now 4-5-1, and the result is much the same, outplayed, outclassed and out scored.
Last season, with their backs against the wall, the Addicks pulled out their best performance of the season against Cardiff on a Tuesday night. The league leaders visited The Valley in high spirits, but buoyed by a ferocious noise from The Covered End, the home side came from two goals down to win 5-4. This season, the atmosphere at home games has been nothing short of poisonous, and it’s clear that this negative energy is rubbing off on the players. Their lack of confidence and apparent disinterest on the pitch is only going to be increased when they’re being slated from all four corners of the pitch. At the end of the Millwall game, one fan walked all the way to the front of the stand, just to scream and shout and berate every player walking off the pitch.
None of this is conducive to a successful season. Sure, the performance was poor, and having paid money fans are entitled to their opinions, but acting on emotions immediately after a poor game helps nobody. We’re supporters for a reason, and it’s our job to support the players that are clearly struggling at this stage of the season. We did it against Cardiff, and we can do it again against Forest on Tuesday. The anger must be aimed at the board, who have restricted Powell despite two extremely successful seasons at the helm. They’re destroying the soul of our club, and the sooner they are removed from the club the better.
Everyone at the club is hurting right now, but instead of falling out through social media, the fans can unite and show strength in the face of adversity. Powell remains the man to take us forward, but he needs to know that he’s got our support. Survival surely remains the aim, and it remains a realistic one. No one is going to relegate themselves at this stage of the season, and the players can drag themselves through, as we saw them do on more than one occasion last season.
Those players have got to pull themselves together, and fast. Perhaps they’ve lost sight of what it means to play for Charlton; perhaps the uncertainty behind the scenes has unsettled everyone. Either way, reports from Turf Moor indicated that the fans who had made the long trip made it clear that they were ‘Charlton ’til they die!’ This is the attitude home fans need to adopt, starting on Tuesday night.
In Powell We Trust
By Tom Wallin