Football fans are a strange bunch, Charlton Athletic fans included. The club are top of the league, five points clear and quietly confident about their promotion chances this season. In public, when goaded, supporters will gloat. It’s a fan’s nature to gloat – and given that Charlton’s followers have had five or six years of underwhelming teams, managers, transfers and most of all performances, I think we’ve earned the right to be a little bit smug at what the team has achieved so far this season. Not that it counts for anything if they tail off and don’t manage to get promoted of course.
I’ve been putting off writing this piece for about six weeks. A minor blip at Stevenage had led to six wins on the bounce and the team playing some fantastic football. Twenty goals scored and three conceded in six games is title form. So it comes as no surprise to the real fans that, I really didn’t want to write a blog on Charlton Athletic’s fantastic start to the season. Given that their next game is against Huddersfield Town – rightly tipped as one of the favourites for promotion and on a record breaking run of form, as a fan I’ll do anything to avoid a change in circumstances that might just lead to a defeat.
However, the powers that be have compelled me to update you all on just how well Charlton are doing. Looking at the season so far, it is both stunning and obvious why Powell has managed to get a new team playing so well together, so quickly. There are five ingredients to Chris Powell’s cauldron of success – in addition to his own charisma:
1: Bring in young, hungry players and ship out the journeymen and deadwood.
2: Supplement this with smatterings of experience, level headedness and non-egos.
3: Get the signings in early – let them bed in.
4: Install a mentality of family – each player will play for the man next to him.
5: Bring back the fun.
It sounds too simple, but perhaps Powell’s fresh take on management has just about brought the art of football management back to its roots. In all honesty it’s too early to tell, but the one thing for sure is that the Addicks are playing better football than anything witnessed under the club’s previous four managers.
If you’re not a Charlton fan, then reading this you may well feel that Powell’s influence is being overstated. It isn’t. You cannot underestimate the difference the man has on the club, the team, and most of all the fans. Having Powell back at Charlton and in charge no less, is like spaghetti and meatballs. It just works.
Whilst it’s fair to attribute a lot of the success so far this season to Powell – and his almost clairvoyant abilities, bringing in left winger Hogan Ephraim a few days before Johnnie Jackson picks up a hamstring injury – credit also has to go to the players. Powell has shown that if they are playing well, they will play. If a player manages to break into the team, they will stay there as long as they deserve a place.
No player has benefited from this more than Andy Hughes. Whilst he may not be the most skilled, there is not a single man on the pitch who works harder. He allows the two full backs Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins to push forward more as he’s always there to cover. It is no surprise that, following the introduction of Hughes into the team, Wiggins has got more assists than anyone else in that period.
Add all of that to the threat and power of Yann Kermogant, plus the deadly form of Bradley Wright-Phillips and there is a Championship challenging team. If, however, Charlton go off of the boil and lose against Huddersfield, then please don’t blame me – I wanted to wait until after the game (and the next one!)
Written by Sunny Seabrooke, We Are Going Up’s Charlton Athletic blogger
Sunny tweets at @sunnyseabrooke