Charlton followed up one of the most emotional weeks in recent years with back-to-back defeats in an equally soul destroying next 7 days. A hectic final few days of the transfer window saw the sale of key players Stephens, Alnwick and Kermorgant (amongst others), but it only got crueler for Addicks fans. Depleted Charlton travelled to in-form Wigan and took the lead just 3 minutes in through Marvin Sordell. Parking the bus, the Addicks did everything to preserve all three points, but two late Wigan goals snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for the Latics.

Charlton’s fortnight from hell was not yet over though, as they welcomed Birmingham to the Valley. Despite having more possession and more chances, the Addicks succumbed to two goals from Manchester United loanee Federico Macheda to lose the game 2-0 and remain firmly in the relegation zone.

I am not alone in being completely convinced that Chris Powell must remain the Charlton manager. The club legend has picked the Addicks up from one of their darkest periods, and surely the chances of survival are better with a personality like him at the helm. With Powell’s contract up in the summer, and no new deal forthcoming, it suggests that Duchâtelet does not feel the same way, or is at least waiting to see if the Addicks survive before making his decision.

This method can’t be helping confidence for the remainder of this season though. Even if Charlton do get relegated, Powell has shown what he can do in League One and would be ideally placed to take the Addicks back up. In addition, with his future in doubt, it’s only going to add to the unease amongst the players. It can’t be easy to play when you’re own future and you’re manager’s future, a manager who you respect and trust, are both in doubt.

Duchâtelet needs to start making some big decisions and quickly. He has sorted the pitch, and it is clear that he has set out his ideas for the club for the next few years. Youth players are being drafted in, and despite the tough spell that the Addicks are going through; the emergence of Cousins, Poyet and Harriott amongst others has certainly been a positive. In addition, the arrival of a couple of young strikers could be essential in this second half of the season. However, the owner needs to follow up Wiggins’ new deal with improved contracts for other key players. He also needs to tie Powell up on a long-term deal. This will reassure the players, clear up his vision for the club, and allow everyone to focus on matters on the pitch.

Powell has made a few decisions that won’t help his cause as he looks to secure a new contract at the club. In recent games, Powell has elected to accommodate club captain Johnnie Jackson, despite the midfielder appearing as though his legs are beginning to fail him. The skipper, whose goals in the previous campaign were an essential part of the success of the season, has struggled to cement a place in the first eleven this year. When he has started Powell has chosen to shift around the solid midfield, pushing Stephens out on the right of midfield, and almost every time it has been to the detriment of the side. Jacko has shown how effective he can be off the bench, and there is no shame in Powell using him as an impact player.

Powell has also persisted with playing Bradley Pritchard, despite the fact that the midfielder is suffering a huge crisis of confidence. Again, a large part of last year’s successes, Pritchard has not been good enough at any stage this season, and Powell needs to be ruthless with his squad selection. Combine this with some odd choices up front, and Duchâtelet would be within his rights to question Powell’s tactical know-how.

There’s a long way to go this season, and the night is darkest just before the dawn. Charlton fans would be forgiven for thinking that it surely can’t get worse, as the Addicks have shown glimpses of positives despite not winning since Boxing Day. They are creating chances, and they’re not being outplayed, but the luck is never with you when you’re struggling near the bottom.

Charlton need to keep united. It’s been a key feature of the club for many years, through the ground-sharing days and the relegation woes. The Addicks have more than enough to stay up this year, and Duchâtelet needs to recognise this and start making some long-term decisions for the club before it is too late!

In Powell We Trust!

By Tom Wallin

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