Thursday, 26 May 2011

And so it begins.

Wholesale changes in the squad have been mentioned and with many players out of contract at the end of June we expected to see some new faces, just maybe not so soon.

Danny Hollands in my opinion is an excellent signing.  Young, hungry, good on the ball, high work-rate, and not a bad shot on him either!  He is definitely the sort of player that we need at the Club, and I'm looking forward to see him do the business in a Charlton shirt.

Bradley Pritchard is probably a punt..  He did well in a trial, did well in the conference league, we probably got him cheap so Powell thought what the hell, give him a shot.  I've go no issue with that.  We are going to need cover and who knows, he may fit in well at this level.

Nick Pope is Ross Worner's replacement.  After letting Ross go, it was a given that we would see another goalkeeper arrive.  I was expecting to see Millwall's John Sullivan who we had on loan towards the end of the season, so I was surprised to see this chap's name linked with us.  I don't know too much about him, so we'll have to keep a close eye on how he develops.  There still may be room to bring in Sullivan, who knows.

Not a bad start in terms of signings.  I expect we'll see more over the coming weeks and months but I am hoping that we see more signings like Danny Hollands than Bradley Pritchard.  That's not a slur on Pritchard of course, I mean he may well be a very capable player, but if we are to hit our target of promotion we are going to need people with experience.

Without knowing for definite which out of contract players will be leaving us, it's hard to predict which positions the manger is looking to fill, but I definitely want to see a decent centre back come in.  Even if Dailly does stay with us, we need a young pair of legs at the back to do the running for him.  I would also like to see us bring in another winger.  When Jackson is fit and playing again we look decent from the left, but nobody has ever taken their chance and made the right wing spot their own.  There has been some talk of Yannick Bolasie of Plymouth, but with Brighton and Southampton said to be interested, we might lose out on that one.

Whoever comes in, I just hope that they have the proper attitude.  We have suffered over the last few years by having players who maybe thought they were better than the level they were playing at.  We now need to find some hungry players with a point to prove and who are willing to roll their sleeves up when necessary.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Promotion or bust for Powell?

I'm sure I'm not the only Charlton fan that breathed a sigh of relief after the final whiste was blown on Saturday.  This season has certainly been a forgettable one, despite some major changes to the Club with the new owners and the appointment of Powell as manager.  But, after the disappointment of losing to Swindon in the play-offs last year, then the sale of some key players, I feared for our chances this season.  So all in all I'm not surprised that we finished in a mid-table position.

I would like to pay a quick tribute to Phil Parkinson.  It's no secret that I was less than enamoured with his style of football, but it was effective.  That's not to say I'm missing him, I really am not, but he did do a job for the Club in difficult times, and he clearly had some ability to be able to get our poor bunch of players to perform.  With Parkinson in charge we were competing in the league, but there was a cost, it was ugly football.  Many people think that he was treated harshly by the new owners, and possibly that is the case, but overall I still think it was the right decision to move him aside.

The appointment of Powell was either a very brave move or an intelligent move on the part of Slater and Co.  23 games later and it has to be said that the jury is still very much out as to whether Powell is going to be the man to lead us out of this division.  I've given Powell a lot of support during his relatively short tenure, and have defended him vehemently at times, but I will not be able to do that for too much longer if we go into next season with the similar patchy form and average performances after Powell and his team have had money to invest and a full pre-season program to prepare the players.

Slater said that there will be "significant investment", and it's up to the manager to ensure that he uses the money wisely and brings in the type of players that can not only adapt to the style of football that he wants to play, but has the heart to be able to dig in and scrap when the situation arises.  There is a lot of trust being put in Powell by giving him this money and I'm sure we all hope that he repays that trust by managing the team to promotion.  It's a huge responsibility, particularly because the pressure will be on from the first kick of a ball, and a lot is expected.

It's imperative that we get off to a good start next season, and it will be interesting to see how the board reacts if we are slow out of the blocks.  I don't think the fans will accept another season of mediocrity which means that Powell could find himself on the end of a backlash if we are not comfortably in the top 6 and in touch with the leaders after the first 10 to 12 games.  Although this would not be a guarantee that we are going to be challenging come the end of the season, but it will definitely be a show of intent and give us the fans and the board the confidence to keep the faith with Powell for a while longer.  If not, then it could mean yet more changes at the Club.

I've been very much of the view that our current team just is not good enough.  Sure, Parky managed to get us to picking up some results, but we cannot say for sure that we would have finished any higher than we did, had he stayed in charge.  Powell brought in Wright-Phillips as his first signing, and we are going to need more players of his quality in order to play our way out of League One next season.  I'm also watching very carefully to see which out of contract players are given the opportunity to stay at the Club to be part of the team next season.

I hope that Chris Powell has learned quickly and that he does go on to be a very successful manager for the Club over the coming years, but he is now going to need to earn his place on his management ability rather than his past performances as a player.  Once he has built his team for next season the buck will stop firmly with him and there can be no excuses if we are under performing.  We have to get promoted next season, anything less will be disastrous, particularly if the board live up to their word with providing the financial backing.  Powell and his team need to deliver.