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.

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