Is it a good thing that Charlton have another home game this Saturday, just five days after the debacle of the Gillingham defeat? Could it be a chance for us all to get that horror show out of our systems or would it be better to have had a twelve day gap for players to rest and for injuries to heal?
Or, alternatively, would a trip to Wembley have been preferable? If we had beaten Wimbledon in the second round of the FA cup we would have been on our way round the North Circular for the sort of occasion that Karl Robinson described at City Addicks as a "chance for supporters to congregate and enjoy themselves". But no, instead of a cup tie with Tottenham we look forward to the glamour of a League One clash Oldham Athletic.
The team's performance at Wigan - particularly after the abject display at Southend - was inspiring. As a result many travelled to The Valley on New Year's Day with a spring in their step. Most left the ground profoundly disappointed with tactics, team selection and even with player recruitment. In particular, Ben Reeves's non-contribution left many of us questioning why Karl Robinson had pursued his signature so diligently during the summer.
Stephy Mavididi has returned on loan for the rest of the season but Robinson added further to the gloom when he reported this week that he is not sure whether the club will make any more signings during the January transfer window:
“We’re in a difficult place. I think we need to know what’s going on. We’ve been told they are looking to sell the club – I don’t have much clarity on that. I’ve got six players I want to bring in and four would walk in this door tomorrow if they could. Richard [Murray] is my first port of call.But also due-diligence is going on. There are so many things going on. I don’t think anyone knows whether it [the takeover] is two weeks, four weeks or the end of the season. I want to get promoted, that’s what I want.”
Apart from Bury (who have lost their last five games) Charlton and Oldham share the poorest recent form record in League One with two points each from the last fifteen. Oldham arrive in twentieth place without a win since mid December and without an away win since the end of September. Their goal scoring record is good - 39 this season is 7 more than Charlton - but their defensive record of 48 conceded is one of the worst. Furthermore, twelve of their goals were notched by Preston loanee Eoin Doyle who is likely to be out for the rest of the season with a blood clot. This puts a lot of responsibility on Craig Davies - a journeyman pro who has featured for Barnsley, Bolton, Wigan and Scunthorpe in recent years - and who will be looking to add to his ten so far this season.
Mavididi is an exciting young player but, at nineteen and yet to score his first senior goal, he is not going to be the answer to Charlton's problems on his own. We hope that the return of Patrick Bauer will bolster a defence that looked exceedingly shaky against Gillingham. We assume Joe Aribo will start instead of Reeves given the difference he made on Monday but, again, he is a young player who cannot be relied on to carry a team.
At the City Addicks meeting in early December Karl Robinson wasn't discounting automatic promotion. In the ensuing weeks a more realistic assessment seemed to be a play-off berth. It would now appear that we are competing with Portsmouth, Peterborough and Rotherham for sixth place. A win against Oldham would leave us one point off sixth place with games against Bury and Walsall to follow, so mathematically things don't look too bad. But those other clubs are likely to strengthen their squads with experienced professionals during the transfer window while our club is stuck in limbo.
Nevertheless we expect three points on Saturday even if it may not be pretty in front of a small and muted crowd on a very cold day.