Friday, 5 August 2011

New look, new season

After succeeding Phil Parkinson in January, Chris Powell's start to life as a manager has not been plain sailing. Despite winning his opening four games, the season ended in pretty mediocre fashion. His first foray into management was largely forgettable and most fans couldn't wait for the season to end. Powell definitely made some errors, but most fans agreed that a comprehensive rebuilding project was required before he could be fully judged.

The transfer market can be a bit of a minefield. For some managers however, their dealings in this area is what helps define them. Of course there are a number of staff involved in spotting talent and recommending them to the club. Ultimately however, it is the manager who must make the decision on whether these players will be right for the club, and he must quickly ascertain if the player will fit the mould for the style of football he is looking to play.

Powell has had a baptism of fire in terms of transfers. 15 players have been brought in, 15 have left, and new contracts have been negotiated with some of last years better players. At a glance, it would appear that the manager has had some success in the market and has landed some decent players for this level. Many of the new faces were targets for other clubs but the Charlton staff clearly did a good job of convincing them that their future lies with Charlton.

I think Powell got his transfer strategy spot on. The early capture of Danny Hollands for me was our best business of the summer. Not just because Hollands is a very good player in this division but because it was an early statement of intent. With Hollands in we could show other prospective signings where we were headed, and it wasn't long before we started to get players of the similar quality signing on the dotted line.

With all the transfer business now out of the way, Powell now needs to go on and prove that he can not only build a new squad, but he has the ability to motivate and manage his own squad successfully. It's all well and good putting together a promising team, but turning those players into a well oiled machine is where the work really begins. Powell has his team now, it's time to deliver some results.

Although it would be great to get off to a good start, it's by no mean a disaster if we don't. Historically many teams have won promotion despite some early set backs. More recently, clubs like Norwich and Millwall have shown that you can still get out of this league regardless of how well you start the season. Millwall won only two of their first 10 games but managed promotion via the play-offs. Norwich City won only 3 of their first 10 games and went on to become League One Champions.

Our own promotion winning seasons also prove that these campaigns can be won at varying stages. In the 1997/98 season we only won two of our first five games. Promotion still came our way however, as we were unbeaten in our last 10 games and we carried that form into the play-offs to eventually go on to become winners. In the 1999/00 season it was our mid-season form that helped us secure the Division One title after a 14 game unbeaten spell; this despite failing to win a single game from our final seven matches.

As the curtain is raised on Chris Powell's first full season in charge there will be some nerves from the squad and the fans alike, but there will also be plenty of excitement. As fans we now need to show our support and give the lads some time to find their feet. Providing the players show the drive and hard work we expect from Charlton players, I'm sure that support will continue throughout the campaign.

There is much expectation, but promotion is won over the course of a season and as always there are going to be plenty of ups and downs along the way.

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