THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

1 October ~ While every season is a new start, few can been as new as the one enjoyed by Charlton this year. With new owners and a new manager, the widely popular Chris Powell, in place last spring, a recruitment drive began as soon as the final 2010-11 ball was kicked. Whereas normally in the summer you scour the forums for news of never-very-likely deals, this time almost every rumour turned out to be true. By the time it was over we had 18 new players and the vast majority of existing players had been let go.

Mercifully the signings were not podgy has-beens from the higher leagues but ambitious and mostly youthful talent from the teams around us (sorry Bournemouth). And so, in combination with the prolific Bradley Wright-Phillips upfront, the homegrown talent of right-back Chris Solly (did you mean to sign him Arsène, when you bought Carl Jenkinson?), winger Scott Wagstaff and captain Johnnie Jackson, the new players gave us a team that looked like a Charlton team in League One should look. That is, one capable of beating the smaller, less well-resourced teams in the division most of the time. Which, so far, we have done. Not always by playing attractive football, but by being competitive, strong at the back and with a midfield duo (Dale Stephens and Danny Hollands) who rarely go missing.

Now, however, for the biggest test so far – a trip to Sheffield United. Expect the home team to have plenty of possession. We aren't Brighton, we will kick it long (too often) and probably play on the break. But this season, for the first time in years, we have strikers who actually look like they want to score when they get close to goal. We have wide players who can also get goals and the midfielders have started chipping in too.

Like any fan outside of Manchester or Chelsea, I feel uneasy after my team has had such a good start. Wouldn't it be better to be about fifth, to have kept expectations within check? Surely we are riding for a fall, and we'll get it in the shape of a 5-0 thrashing today, won't we? Perhaps. Or perhaps we'll get what I'm sure the management would be delighted with – a scrappy, chanceless 0-0. Tom Green

Comments (3)
Comment by Paul Rowland 2011-10-01 17:38:11

Like you, Tom, I'm fairly optimistic about the Haddocks' prospects for this season. Another good away win today as well. Optimistic, yes - but the problem is... I'm just not excited by it. And there are a number of reasons for that.

For a start, 18 (eighteen) new arrivals this summer means I barely know anybody in the current team. I wouldn't recognise most of them if they walked past me in the street, and if you asked me to list our squad I'd struggle to remember them all. How can this be? We're talking about my football team here, my heroes... and I can't even remember all their chuffing names!

I don't like revolution, I prefer evolution. I can accept three or four newcomers (maybe five or six at a stretch) coming in for a new season, to enhance the team. That's a fairly natural development, and I can just about handle putting that number of new names to faces in one go. But eighteen? EIGHTEEN? And the likelihood is that most of those eighteen will have moved on or been shipped out before I've had the chance to get to know who they are - to be replaced by yet another truckload of here-today-gone-tomorrow complete strangers. Call me old fashioned, but it's important to me that I know who the players are in my team. If this is the way professional football is going, fine - but don't expect me to get too passionate about it.

I've been down the Valley three times this season, and I find myself cheering on young Solly (what a prospect he is!), Wagstaff - oh, and dear ol' Sir Chris of course. But the rest of them, I'm just not connecting with them. Know what I'm saying? I'm not going out of my way to be negative here - I'm just being honest with you. To me, it's not like supporting MY football club any more. How can it be, if I don't know who three quarters of the players are, and I don't even know who owns the club?

Which is another issue I have with Charlton Athletic right now - have we established exactly who is supplying the money for all these new players?

Comment by jertzeeAFCW 2011-10-01 20:03:31

Paul R - I think you have become too used to just a few changes.

You should support a non league team. There, if you don't have at least 10 changes then you are either playing really well from the last season or you have no manager.

Quite often the manager goes and takes virtually all the team with him, affecting 2 teams in one go.

My team, AFC Wimbledon, funnily ebough has seen the fewest changes in 9 years. Only about 5 or so. For the previous 8 years it took most of us until November before we recognised the whole squad, and by then 5 had been replaced. But would I change any of th elast 9 years...not a chance in hell.

Remember - your club isn't "the players". It's the fans.

Comment by consperanza 2011-10-03 22:30:24

I like Charlton! Only charging us £5 to get in was a treat. I got 5 tickets for the price of one on the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough!

Just one thing though, guys. Could you turn the sound down on the PA system? I was deaf by the time the game started and at half time my ears began to bleed. Don't the neighbours complain?

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