For the first time since last season’s League Cup first round, Charlton won’t be playing either Huddersfield or Oxford in a cup competition. Last season, the Addicks lost 1-0 to Huddersfield in the FA Cup third round. This season, Charlton beat Oxford in the first round of the League Cup, before losing to Huddersfield in the second round. They then drew Oxford in the FA Cup, and beat them at the fourth attempt (two postponements, a draw and a replay). Their reward? Another trip to Huddersfield.
In recent years the Addicks haven’t been a side for cup runs. In fact, Charlton haven’t even reached the 5th round since the 2005-06 season, and whilst they’re struggling in the league this year, they’ve finally worked their way in to the 5th round, with the chance of a dream tie against the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal.
Many people suggest that cup runs can upset a team’s momentum in the league, particularly a team that are struggling at the lower end of the Championship. Over the last few seasons, the likes of Birmingham and more recently Wigan have succeeded in the cup but in doing so have succumbed to relegation. However, this year it seems (and Powell agrees) that the cup run has galvanised Charlton’s lacklustre first half of the campaign. Middlesborough aside, the Addicks haven’t lost since December 14th, and whilst the Xmas period has been a bit stop/start with postponements, their recent run of form has coincided with their first trip to the fifth round in 8 years.
In fact, it’s been a whole week of progress for Charlton. Midfielder Anil Koch became the third Standard Liege player to join the club on loan, following fellow midfielder Ajdarević and goalkeeper Thuram-Ulien. Ajdarević made his first start for the club against Huddersfield, whilst Koch will also hope to be in contention in the coming weeks. Another progress of note was the return from injury of Sordell. A player that currently splits fans, his talent should not be underestimated, and with a long stint in the starting eleven he could prove to be a useful asset for a side that are finding goals hard to come by.
The final progression was an exclusive interview with the new owner Roland Duchâtelet. Alongside Richard Murray and Katrien Meire, the Belgian discussed his vision for the club, and on the whole fans seem pleased. Duchâtelet indicated that he wouldn’t look to spend millions on transfers, choosing instead to invest in youth. With the likes of Shelvey, Jenkinson, Cousins, Solly and more recently Poyet having featured for the first-team, this should not worry Addicks fans. The club prides itself on the youth set-up, and if Duchâtelet continues to give it the attention it deserves, the club can continue to breed talent.
The Belgian also indicated that he aims to keep the younger players for longer. Sales such as Carl Jenkinson to Arsenal have previously been necessary to raise funds, but with rumours of Jordan Cousins’ imminent departure, Duchâtelet’s interview indicates the youngster may not be going anywhere just yet.
The one lack of progression remains the contracts. In his interview, Duchâtelet implied that talks with Powell have been positive, but despite noises behind the scenes that contracts are nearing conclusion, nothing official has yet been announced. Rumours are that many players are awaiting Powell’s own future, whilst it’s been confirmed that Kermorgant (a Celtic target) is refusing to sign a new deal until Powell is confirmed as the Charlton manager. The Frenchman is looking to secure his future at The Valley, but with such a unique bond between himself and the gaffer, it appears that it will either be both or none.
Whilst this weekends Championship results left the Addicks languishing in the bottom three, the future looks bright for the SE7 outfit. A fifth round FA cup tie to look forward to, contracts nearing completion and a new owner who understands what the fans want, if Charlton can survive then they could be on the horizon of exciting times. Roland, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is and tie up the future of this club.
In Powell We Trust
By Tom Wallin