Charlton go in to tonight’s match with Reading at the Madejski following another defeat at home.
The Addicks tuned in a woeful performance at The Valley against the Tractor Boys on Saturday, offering nothing up front, little in the middle, and not much at the back, with only Ben Alnwick in goal deserving of his wages for the day.
Powell is opting to play the long ball game to the dismay of the fans and it just isn’t working; you only have to look at how many goals we have scored and their league position to see that. Charlton have managed to net a measly 14 goals this term, only one more than Yeovil who have the worst record in the division.
But when Charlton do keep the ball on the ground and commit to passing, their belief and the commitment to try and show some flair is apparent. Whilst it has been thin on the ground this season, there have been flashes that have delighted fans. It is evident that player’s heads are down and confidence is low, so what is going wrong?
While fans question Powell’s tactical decisions and players scratch their heads on contract talk, there is no question that the lack of investment in the squad has left us very thin and lacking options. Some might go as far as to say “what options?” Last Tuesday a poor Doncaster came to The Valley and made us look like we can beat any team, yet it was the same Doncaster who managed to come from behind this weekend and beat QPR. There is no question that anyone can beat anyone in this division; Yeovil managed to put three past Watford this weekend and an indifferent Huddersfield beat high-flying Burnley on the same day.
So to tonight’s match, and the question of which Charlton will get off the coach at Reading today? Will it be the unit that are able to play confident passing football, with four cool heads at the back? Will Stephens have the belief to change the game at any time with one of his screamers and will Stewart get off the coach confident that he can beat his markers and deliver a final ball with an impact?
Or will Chris Powell head in to the dressing room with the misguided belief that the only way we can beat our Berkshire rivals is by smashing the ball up to Yan, hope he can make something of it and crossing our fingers that the defence can stay strong? I feel it will be the latter, and playing that game against a good Reading team we mean we will come unstuck.
While it will break the hearts of many Addicks, has the time come to drop Johnnie Jackson and opt for Harriot on the left leaving Stephens and Cousins to take care of the centre? After all, Wiggins and Harriot worked well together down the left in the second half of last season so perhaps all they need is a run in the team. Hamer is recently added to the injury list, and don’t expect to see the return of Solly or Cort at the back either.
Reading, on the other hand, will be without full-backs Chris Gunter and Chris Baird through suspension and injury respectively. Keep an eye on Royals winger Garath McCleary as he knows how to get the ball in the box. They are unbeaten at home this season and will fancy their chances against a Charlton team who have really struggled to find form recently.
My guess is that Charlton will leave SE7 with another 1-0 away defeat after Adam Le Fondre gets on the end of a Garath McCleary cross.