It hasn't been easy supporting Charlton this season but, if anything, the club has probably over-achieved. Until the recent recruitment of Watt, Johnson, Eagles and Diarra the squad was painfully thin - for example. for the FA Cup tie with Blackburn in January we had a bench of Nick Pope and six teenagers. With such scarce resources available it is surprising that the club never actually dropped into the bottom three.
In contrast Cardiff, along with fellow-relegated Fulham, have had a massively underwhelming season - rarely able to sustain form or to put a winning run together. They lost Bellamy, Mutch, Campbell, Zaha and Caulker from last year's Premier League team but still retained players like Noone, Le Fondre, Kenwynne Jones and Scottish goalkeeper Marshall, and they must have expected to have been challenging for a play-off place at least. The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rescue them from relegation last season always seemed bizarre. He found success at Championship level equally difficult and was sacked in mid September after home defeats by Norwich and Middlesborough had left the club in seventeenth place. His replacement Russell Slade, who had done such a fantastic job at Leyton Orient with meagre resources, has also struggled to get the team performing consistently, and nearly six months later they sit only three places higher in the table.
It seems that he has recently been trying to tighten things up. In January, Cardiff won two and lost four games, scoring 8 and conceding 10. In February, by contrast they won one, lost one and drew four, scoring 3 and conceding 3. Tuesday night's 3-1 win at Rotherham was the first time they had scored more than 2 since being thrashed 5-3 by Bournemouth in mid December.
One of their goals on Tuesday was scored by Federico Macheda. It is now nearly six years since his dramatic debut for Manchester United when he scored the winner against Aston Villa in the third minute of injury time. He remained a United player until last summer but spent most of that time on loan in Italy and at Championship clubs and has made less than 100 first team appearances on his travels. His most successful loan was with Birmingham where he scored 10 goals in 18 appearances including 2 on The Valley mudbath last season. He joined Cardiff last summer but he is by no means sure of a place in the starting line-up as he competes with the under-achieving Jones and League 1 journeyman Alex Revell (a January window signing) up front.
Bouyant Charlton have little to fear from their trip to South Wales. Guy Luzon has confirmed that Tal Ben Haim will not be fit but said that Berg Gudmunsson, Solly and Johnson might be available. Cardiff know all about Johann B-G after his spectacular December equaliser at The Valley but are they ready for Freddy Bulot ?
Whatever the outcome it will be good to see Cardiff playing in their traditional blue. A rare victory for supporter power.