Until today, it had been another fortnight of off-the-field headlines and lack of on-the-field activity for Charlton. Following their agonising defeat to Wigan at the start of the month, the struggling Addicks outplayed Birmingham but continued to struggle for goals. Two mistakes allowed Manchester United loanee Federico Macheda to profit for the Blues, leaving Charlton firmly in the relegation zone.
After that, two weeks passed without a match. Their FA Cup 5th round against Sheffield Wednesday was called off due to a waterlogged pitch (although not The Valley for a change), and so the Addicks arrived to play big-spending QPR with a lack of competitive football.
This didn’t seem to bother the Charlton side however, as the lowly Addicks produced one of their grittiest and hard-fought performances against the high-flying R’s to grind out a 1-0 win. Youngsters like Poyet, Cousins and Wilson combined with the more experienced likes of Jackson to better QPR in all areas of the pitch. Despite their superior possession, the away team failed to create any meaningful chances, and in the last minute, skipper Johnnie Jackson nodded home a corner to secure a phenomenal three points for Chris Powell’s men.
With the forthcoming FA Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday on Monday, fans seem torn between a successful cup run and league survival. Whilst league survival is much more important in terms of the short term future of the club, a day at Wembley is only two victories in Sheffield away, and fans are well aware that something like that might never come around again in their lifetime.
There is no reason however, why the Addicks can’t have both of the above. With confidence surely soaring after today’s victory, and with 3 games in hand on most of the teams around them in the league, Charlton have to feel they have enough to stay up. Based on the reaction of the fans after the game, they certainly believe, and with the passion and commitment shown on the field, anything is possible for the Addicks. Meanwhile, Wednesday are struggling, and Sheffield United are a league below Charlton, and therefore they have to feel that they can also get through the next two rounds (by the time you read this, it may be a moot point as Wednesday might have already won).
The most important event in the last fortnight in SE7 was Duchâtelet’s first press conference since taking over at The Valley. The day before the conference, the Telegraph leaked a story indicating that Powell was about to be given a new deal, and on the same day Powell was added to the line up to meet the press. Whilst no deal was announced, it seems clear that Duchâtelet intends to stick with the club legend at the helm.
Powell has his critics, but he has the clubs best interests at heart. He might be tactically naive, but he’s learning, and we would not find a manager who cares more about the future of Charlton Athletic. Even without the deal, the rumours indicate that a new contract isn’t far away, and this will also lift the players. With confidence around the club improving based on that and the QPR win, for the first time this season there is a little bit of hope on the horizon.
The work is nowhere near done. As I write this, Charlton are still in the bottom three and haven’t even played their 5th round FA Cup tie. However, the belief is there that Charlton can stay up, and that the club is finally turning a big corner. Performances in recent weeks have been much improved, and the Addicks have got the result that their hard work has deserved. It’s crucial that they make the games in hand count, and it’s important that Duchâtelet follows through and offers Powell a new deal. There’s still a lot of football to be played, and perhaps Charlton are starting to pick up at just the right time. Keep believing!
In Powell We Trust!
By Tom Wallin