Goals win football matches. No matter how well you defend, no matter if you don’t concede, without scoring you will not win games.
So whilst Charlton’s defensive display this season has, on the whole, been excellent (the Addicks have only conceded 19 goals, the best in the bottom half of the table) only rock bottom Yeovil have scored less. Charlton have scored just 12 goals in 15 games, and with their game in hand against Doncaster taking place this Thursday evening, Powell will be looking for a reaction from his attacking players as they have a chance to make some ground on the teams above them.
There’s certainly no need to panic. In fact, if the Addicks can win their game in hand and beat Ipswich next Saturday (and it’s a big if), they’ll find themselves on the same points as their Suffolk opponents who are currently twelfth in the league.
Why aren’t Charlton scoring enough goals? Following the phenomenal end to last season, Obika’s loan ended, Fuller’s enormous wages were shipped off to Blackpool and Danny Haynes was also moved on. That left only Kermorgant, who admits himself that he can get out of the shape during the off season, and Pigott from the youth team. It wasn’t until the very end of the transfer window that Powell finally managed to secure some support for Yann. Simon Church was out of contract and signed for the Addicks, whilst England Under-21 Marvin Sordell came in on loan from Bolton.
The three forwards haven’t yet settled, as injuries to Kermorgant and experimental formations have meant that no forward has had a solid run of games. Church has had the most time in the side, and has weighed in with four league and cup goals. Despite his injuries, Kermorgant’s clinical finishing remains Charlton’s most potent threat, and he has scored three times in his relatively limited run outs. It is Kermorgant who looks the most likely to get the goals once he gets an extended run in the side. His cameo against QPR gave him a much needed run out, and if he can get 180 minutes under his belt in this weeks remaining games, he will back himself to score some goals.
Last season, goals came from all over the pitch. Whilst Kermorgant and Johnnie Jackson finished joint top scorers, Haynes, Fuller, Obika and Stephens (amongst others) all weighed in with important goals. Loanees such as Rob Hulse also came in and grabbed goals for the side, and this season it hasn’t happened. The Addicks have been relying on goals from Kermorgant and Jackson, who have both been injured for the majority of the first 15 games.
Having said this, the side are getting back to full fitness. Jackson has played well in the hole behind Church in recent games, whilst Kermorgant looked alert when he came on against QPR. If Powell can find the right way to play all three men, maybe also utilising Sordell in a wider position or off the bench, the goals will start coming. Cameron Stewart has also grabbed a couple of goals, and both he and Harriott will be looking to weigh in with a good haul as the season progresses. It’s no secret that Powell would like a couple of loanees in too, and perhaps they could bolster the Addicks’ attacking threat.
Charlton’s defensive has been extremely solid in recent weeks (Leeds game aside), and this will please Powell as he continues to address the attacking issues. Whilst goals win games, a side is built on a robust defensive, and if the forwards know it will only take one or two goals to win a match, it wills are the pressure off knowing that the side are unlikely to ship many at the other end.
With takeover rumours becoming increasingly frequent and credible, there remains a lot of uncertainty around the club. If the latest rumours are to be believed, the investors will wait until the summer before giving Powell money to really improve the squad, and therefore this season is all about survival. With Kermorgant and Jackson back to full fitness, Stephens back in an attacking roll, and Stewart growing in to the first 11, goals aren’t far away from this Addicks side. Wins against Doncaster and Ipswich are by no way a forgone conclusion, but if Charlton can get 6 points from the two games, the league will look much safer entering the Christmas period.
Charlton were never going to define their season at expensively constructed QPR, but the Addicks gave an excellent account of themselves, restricted some quality players to very little opportunities, and defended impressively. If Powell can get the players scoring, it won’t be long until they’re climbing up the table.
In Powell We Trust!
By Tom Wallin