Boro away preview: (insert amusing Luzon word play)

It's perhaps not the easiest time to be the new Head Coach at Charlton Athletic.


It won't be lost on Guy Luzon or his employers that the usual warm welcome offered to new managers by the Charlton faithful lasted barely an hour in his first home game.
Although the shut out at Wolves in Luzon's first official game in charge was an encouragement following the 5 (FIVE) goal capitulation at Watford, a scarcely-deserved point at home to strugglers Rotherham leaves Charlton supporters fearing a second successive relegation battle. The supporters, loudly questioning whether Luzon knew what he was doing when he withdrew leading scorer Vetokele for Tony Watt, will have been even less convinced at his explanation for Rotherham's late equalizer. "We sat too deep," complained Luzon, apparently failing to appreciate any correlation with his decision to replace Callum Harriott with defender Joe Gomez in the dying minutes.

Like the supporters, Luzon would have hoped for more from the final few days of the transfer window. Having lost George Tucudean to Steaua Bucharest he might have expected to bring in at least one more striker. Instead he goes into one of the toughest challenges he will face with just three senior strikers at the club, and the only one of those who has started a game this season (let alone scored) is playing through injury.

Good news for Charlton might come in the form of the arrival of Roger Johnson. A popular figure in his West Ham days, his career has gone off the boil in recent seasons and his penchant for picking clubs facing relegation has earned him the unfortunate nickname of 'Relegation Roger.' Yet at his best he is undoubtedly a player of quality and commitment, and he will want to earn a contract at Charlton beyond this season.

Certainly if he features he couldn't have picked a tougher start to his Charlton career. A result at high flying Middlesbrough wouldn't go amiss, but it is a daunting challenge. Boro have 17 points from their last 8 games, and their run of 4 straight wins includes a stunning FA Cup victory at Premier League Champions Manchester City. Charlton are at the opposite end of the form table, having not won since November and scoring just 5 times in those 11 league matches.

Boro have not lost a game at the Riverside Stadium since August, and they welcome Daniel Ayala back into their squad after suspension along with new signing Adam Forshaw. Midfielder Grant Leadbitter will start the match looking to add to his impressive haul so far this season, whilst up front on-loan Chelsea youngster Patrick Bamford has also chipped in with his fair share of goals. Between them they have scored just one goal fewer than Charlton's entire team.

Charlton supporters may be forgiven to casting an envious eye over at stablemate Standard Liege, who have just appointed last season's Valley hero Jose Riga. Whilst it is Guy Luzon who has to turn things around this year, it is hard to imagine coming away from the North East with anything more than frostbite.

Verdict: More misery for the Charlton faithful as Boro cruise to the three points.