27 year old Lee Novak and 29 year old Ricky Holmes have joined Charlton this week. In as much as their recruitment seems to represent a change in policy towards the signing of players familiar with the English game, should we be rejoicing in optimism?
Novak is a veteran of 240 games in the English Football league, predominantly at League 1 level. He played up front for Huddersfield in League 1 for three seasons alongside Jordan Rhodes and scored 30 goals in 109 games. When The Terriers were promoted in 2012/13 he found the going more difficult and scored only 4 times in 35 appearances. He signed for Birmingham in 2013 and registered 10 goals in his 59 Championship appearances for them over two seasons. In his loan last season to Chesterfield his goal to game ratio improved again with 14 strikes in 35 games. We seem to have signed a player who promises to get us a goal every three games in League 1 but who will struggle at a higher level. His former manager Lee Clarke says "he has a fantastic work ethic".
Midfielder Ricky Holmes will be playing at the highest level of his career when our season kicks off on August 6th. He began with four years at Conference South Chelmsford and progressed via three years at Barnet and two at Portsmouth (where he won player of the year) to Northampton who he joined in January 2015. He enjoyed a very successful season in their championship winning team last year and he was subsequently named in the League 2 team of the year. Northampton were reluctant to lose him but he submitted a transfer request. Russell Slade was clearly very keen to sign him but he is as yet unproven at League 1 level.
In the meantime there have been three notable departures - Vetokele on loan to Zulte Wagarem in Belgium; Reza to Heerenveen in Holland; Makienok's loan has finished.
The Club have made exciting signings for the past two seasons yet have failed to build on that promise. Vetokele and Gudmundson joined in the summer of 2014. Kashi and Bauer came on board this time last year. The difference this time is that Novak and Holmes - albeit less exotic signings - have been sought out by a manager who knows what it takes to succeed in League 1. It is a good, although not inspiring start. Much will depend on departures and further arrivals over the next few weeks with the concern that the squad will once again lack depth and that too much will be expected of untried youngsters.
There are strong rumours linking us with Nick Ajose who scored 23 goals for Swindon last season in 33 appearances. In fact, including a loan period in 2013/14, he has scored 33 goals for Swindon in 49 games. He also scored goals for Crewe and looks like a striker in the Bradley Wright-Phillips mould who can certainly deliver at League 1 level. It seems surprising that a Championship club has not decided to have a punt on him but, if this signing goes through, it would seem to be a clear sign of intent that Charlton want to make a serious attempt at promotion.
We watch with interest.