We finished last season on an unbelievable high, Champions of League One, breaking the 100 points barrier and finishing the league as the undisputed top team in the division. Coming into the Championship, we were all somewhat guilty of an arguably deserved arrogance, in part due to our predecessors’ respected rises straight into the Premier League.
With a lack of summer activity and little strengthening to the squad, with hindsight it’s not that much of a surprise Charlton have failed to impress. Our weaknesses last season were easily compensated for by a far superior squad overall, however this season the squad – largely the same as last season – looks weak, no more so than in central midfield.
Couple this with several injuries to key players, a run of poor decisions and countless goal-line clearances, and it’s fair to say that we’re not sitting too pretty in the table. Powell is keeping the faith in his players, avoiding substitutions until the last moment and sticking with last season’s warriors – whose underperformances are sowing seeds of doubt with the fans, questioning whether these youngsters can make the step up in class and cement Charlton into the Championship, and maybe take us even further.
There have been glimpses of what this team can achieve – where it can go if we get everything right. The injury to last season’s stalwart striker – Yann Kermorgant – has given new marquee signing Ricardo Fuller a chance to get fit and move the team forward. His performance against Watford showed glimpses of his genius, and if Powell can get the team playing good football with the ball to his feet, then he could be one of the best signings we’ve made in years.
With less than ten games played, it’s certainly too early to write Powell, the players or the team off. The players, the manager and the fans need to start believing in what this team is capable of again, and have the courage to step up and make the difficult decisions – dropping underperforming players, reinventing the style of play if it’s not working. Most of all, Powell needs to believe that he is a Championship manager. He may be one of the newest in the league, but he’s there on merit. We’ve had the jubilation of promotion. We’ve had the harsh reality of the Championship – with teams that will win clinically and punish your one mistake. We can’t expect to create 15 average chances a game and score three.
It’s time for Powell, the players, the fans and the club to step up and own the fact that we are a Championship club alongside some very, very good teams. It’s time to act like it. If we do, then we’ll be absolutely fine.
Written by Sunny Seabrooke, We Are Going Up’s Charlton Athletic blogger
Sunny tweets at @sunnyseabrooke