"Now that you have seen the "new" Charlton team in action, do you believe that we are now better equipped to avoid relegation than we were immediately before the Duchatelet takeover?"
That was the question we put to a variety of regular Trust contributors, and we have a variety of answers!
Pre-window, I was confident: Powell would know his targets and strengthen in a couple of key areas. Not what happened, and after Birmingham I was worried – gelling a new squad pre-season is one thing, doing it mid-season with a bunch of random picks by the new owner is quite another. Let alone the loss of Yann the talisman.
Deep in the relegation battle in late February. Really important home game – London derby. A win will turn the season around. Excellent performance, three points in the bag. Everyone happy, the manager secure, lauded for his tactics, team showing real ability*. Belief surges through the supporters – now that result will spark a run.
And looking back it did – we stayed unbeaten until mid April after that 4-0 victory over Curbishley’s West Ham, in the Premiership on 24 February 2007. Sadly, we all know how that ended.
We’ll take heart from the QPR result, but there’s a long way to go yet.
It's hard not to be optimistic after that fantastic win against QPR. However, Championship survival still hangs by a thread and whilst the new regime may have steadied the ship the squad will need strengthening further if the season is not to end in tears.
The real strength of Chris Powell's sides over the last 18 months has been their terrific esprit de corps and the performance against QPR proved that the squad remains very much together. That's a big positive, but the biggest weakness, namely the lack of a serious goal threat, remains. There is no obvious solution to this problem, but notwithstanding the loss of the talismanic Kermorgant, Powell has more options than he did, both in terms of personnel and tactically. That may prove to be crucial during the run in.
It's the lack of both pace and width that remain most troubling though. The selection of the hapless Danny Green against QPR was evidence enough that this is a real concern. A good loan signing could make a huge difference. Sean Wright-Philips? Could he, or somebody like him, provide that vital spark that would help to ensure survival?
Cousins and Poyet were both outstanding against QPR and, despite their youth and inexperience, never looked like being outmuscled, but it's asking a lot of Poyet, in particular, to provide the platform for the talented, mercurial Ajdarevic to weavehis magic, without a break during the final seventeen games. An experienced central midfield player is, therefore, priority number two in my view.
The right signings now would give the side a much better balance than it had during the first half of the season and hence a real chance of survival. It won't be easy, but Jackson's late winner may just be the turning point.
Whilst Yann was a favourite of mine, his aerial prowess meant that often we would resort to long ball tactics when he played, bypassing the midfield and would often see the ball coming straight back and another wave of opposition pressure. Ghoochanneijhad and Arjdarevic seem creative and seem to want the ball into feet more which may result in more football on the ground which seems to accommodate our other forward players which can only be a good thing in this relegation battle. The sale of Alnwick, who I though was very good in his brief spell in between the sticks, was very strange although perhaps explained by the statement made by Orient shortly after he arrived there. I’m still undecided about Thuram but the fact that there will now be keen competition between him and Hamer will keep both on their toes which bodes well.
The arrival of Mr Duchatelet has changed the atmosphere at Charlton, and I think for the better. Despite not living over the shop as it were, Mr Duchatelet's fellow director Katrien Meier and his 'eyes and ears' has made a favourable personal impression on everybody, and her arrival at Charlton has been an excellent call where her skill set seems to match our current needs.
The modern European entrée into our rather traditional footballing culture will unsettle some, but for others, the wise and the realistic amongst us, Mr Duchatelet's template for the future is an exciting challenge. The key relationship will be how the new regime, arriving with their objectivity regarding Charlton Athletic, can best collaborate with the positive forces already at the Valley, and for me that means the footballing side of the club embodied by the much admired Chris Powell.
I welcome Roland and Katrien here, but advise them against throwing any babies out with the bathwater.
I've seen the last two home games and there were over 30 chances on goal between them. whatever the result yesterday that is a major improvement on what went on in certain patches before Christmas. To me that is all down to the midfield. Stephens was clearly playing for a move and I thought he was a real talent when on form. But now he's gone we have not one but two new faces challenging for man of the match every week : Poyet and Ajdarovic. Add that to Jackson and Cousins and we have the best central midfield options for many years. The speed of the January window ins and outs showed that the new owner is decisive and has players available at other clubs. Securing a right sided midfielder or right back to enable Wilson to push up will ensure results improve and will show that Duchatelet can fix the weakest parts of the squad and help us get through two games a week for the rest of the season.
What's your view?