Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Mountains to climb

If anything, last night's result shows us how much work there is still to do with the squad if we are to have any hope of finishing in a promotion or play-off position next season.  Southampton have picked up some very good results lately and we have to raise our game to their level if we are to hope to mirror what they have achieved so far this campaign.  Last night however we didn't get anywhere near it.  Southampton dominated for the majority of the match, and if it were not for some excellent saves from Rob Elliot, who had yet another good game for us, we might have been looking at a real hammering.

I'm interested to know what "significant investment" means.  Michael Slater stated that there would be a cash injection and that money will be available to build a squad to get us out of this division, but I wonder if he really knows exactly what is required.  In my opinion we only have a handful of players that are actually capable of playing the type of football Powell is trying to get us to play, and it is a direct result of this that we have slid down the table.  Alex Dyer has commented previously that they really need a pre-season in order to get their message across properly, and I wouldn't disagree, but this team also needs a major overhaul if we are to eventually be a success with the passing game.

Parkinson might have managed to get this group of players to dig out some better results than Powell has, after all he signed them for specific roles in mind (one would hope), but the style of football we were playing under him was hardly entertaining.  We have a number of contracts up in the summer and it will be very interesting to see who stays and who goes.  Clearly we are going to have to keep some of the under-performing players but major surgery is required.  I think Powell needs at least 5-6 first team players if we are to change to the style that he wants and be effective.

We have problems in many areas.  To begin with, we are more than a little suspect at the back.  We haven't kept a clean sheet since the win against Yeovil 15 games ago, and in that time the number of defensive errors leading to opposition goals has been considerable.  In the middle of the park we are lightweight and are lacking creativity and the ability to retain and pass the ball.  In terms of our attacking play we don't seem to know how to carve out clear-cut openings and if it wasn't for the excellent signing of Bradley Wright-Phillips who can conjure up a goal from half chances, we might have slipped even further down the table.  We need to find a regular partner for Bradley, we need to get a ball-winning midfielder, we need to find players who can create something for our attacking players to feed off, and we need to find a centre-back who knows how to defend.

Personally I'm not convinced that Powell is making best use of the squad we have.  Nathan Eccleston always seems to make things happen when he comes on, but he has not been given enough starts to show his worth.  Racon has lately been pushed out to the left hand-side to make room for Dean Parrett, but he is just not suited to playing as a winger and our style is far too narrow and opposition wingers just ghost past him as if he wasn't there.  There have been lots of calls to bring in Kyel Reid, a natural left winger, but I'm not convinced that this is the answer either.  Unless Reid can prove that he can track back and help out the team with some defensive duties, then he probably will not make that much of a difference.  His overall team contribution isn't good enough for me.  He also suffers with complacency and sometimes looks as if he is coasting in games rather than digging in and giving 100%.

Powell has mountains to climb with this squad and the big question in my mind is where on earth to you find the type of players that we need to come to Charlton and play League One football?  I'm glad it's not my job to find them.

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