Just when we were gearing up to give a warm South London welcome to our old friend Neil Warnock he dodged the occasion by resigning as Cardiff manager.
Cardiff Chairman Mehmet Dalman moved swiftly to appoint former Millwall boss Neil Harris to replace him. Harris was quick to stress that he is “not Neil Warnock mark two” and that he intends an evolution of the tactics employed by his predecessor rather than revolution.
The departing Warnock stressed that he “would especially like to thank Mehmet Dalman whom I have said many times has been one of the best chairman I have had the privilege to work for. His support has been immense, especially in 2019 which for many reasons both on and off the field has been the most challenging period both emotionally and physically that I have ever encountered."
Cardiff arrive at The Valley this Saturday in 14th position – a point behind their hosts. They have yet to win away from home and have managed just four points out of twenty four on their travels. Draws at Blackburn (0-0), Derby (1-1), Hull (2-2) and Millwall (2-2) are as good as it gets as they have lost at Wigan (2-3), Reading (0-3), WBA (2-4) and Swansea (0-1). Their last away win was in May at Manchester United.
Their record at The Valley is scarcely any better with one win in their last ten visits – the last being a 4-1 win in March 1985. What a grim evening that was.
The match was memorable mainly because it saw the one and only appearance for Charlton of goalkeeper Jim Stannard who had joined the club on loan from Fulham and was playing because of an injury to Nicky Johns. Stannard was to make over 600 League appearances, including nearly 400 for Fulham during a twenty year career in the game and he is now (according to Wikipedia) goalkeeping coach at Bromley. He was not, however, a hit in SE7. A crowd of just 3,904 saw goals from Mullen, Withey (2) and Dwyer put The Bluebirds 0-4 up by the 82nd minute and the ground was nearly empty by the time Ronnie Moore scored a consolation penalty with three minutes to go. Despite the win, Cardiff were relegated at the end of the season. Charlton finished seventeenth and there were precious few signs as the season fizzled out of the renaissance under Lennie Lawrence that would lead to promotion at Carlisle twelve months later.
Charlton fans will have much happier memories of the extraordinary 5-4 win over Cardiff in November 2012 when Johnnie Jackson seemed to pull his team back into the game through sheer will power. Having recovered from 0-2 down after twenty four minutes to 5-2 up with twenty five to go the team nearly surrendered it all by conceding two goals in additional time.
Steve Gallen confirmed at the CAST AGM last week that he is hopeful that Lyle Taylor will be involved this weekend. Further good news for The Addicks is the availability of Macauley Bonne after a heart scare. But manager Lee Bowyer has announced that injuries and the suspension of Darren Pratley mean that he will be unable to field a full bench for the game. Albie Morgan has been recalled from Ebbsfleet as cover.
In goal for Cardiff should be Neil Etheridge who played four games for Charlton in 2014/15. Struggling to make a living in the game he nearly gave up and returned to The Philippines but two good seasons with Walsall in League One brought him to the attention of Cardiff. He was almost ever present in their promotion and Premier league seasons and he returned to the side last month after a hamstring injury.
We hope he doesn’t aggravate it picking the ball out of the net on Saturday.