Supporters are advised to arrive early for this Saturday's 5.30pm kick off. A crowd approaching 20,000 is anticipated and there are bound to be some delays at turnstiles and while returning and new supporters locate their seats. The club has issued advice in terms of Covid protocols and also a timetable of pre-match events including the official opening of The Alan Curbishley Stand (see below). An early arrival will also offer CAST members the opportunity to come to our stall behind the Covered End to say hello, pay their subs and admire our new tablecloth.
It is now seven years since Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri purchased Wednesday from Milan Mandiric and vowed to reach the Premier League in two years. They came very close under Carlos Carvalhal but were pipped in the play-offs first by Hull and then by Huddersfield. Carvalhal left in 2017 and the club's fortunes have declined ever since. Steve Bruce managed a twelfth place finish before jumping ship to Newcastle in 2019 but, last season, Gary Monk, Tony Pulis, Neil Thompson and Darren Moore all had a go at taking the reins as the club remained resolutely in the bottom three. Relegation came despite their twelve point penalty for breaching profit and sustainability rules being reduced to six points on appeal although the reduction would have saved them had they not conceded a Martin Waghorn equaliser in the 78th minute of their final game at Derby. The goal meant that the game finished 3-3. Derby survived while Wednesday dropped.
They begin this season with a suspended six point deduction hanging over them if they fail to pay their players on time (which happened a number of times last season). In light of that it is a bit surprising that the bookmakers are currently anticipating they will finish third. Maybe they are impressed by Darren Moore's summer recruitment.
There was an exodus of players from Hillsborough at the end of last season and only four of the starting eleven for their Carabou Cup fixture v Huddersfield last weekend featured in their final game of last season. One of these was the influential midfielder Barry Barron who may well attract interest from Championship clubs before the end of the month. They have strengthened their squad by re-signing experienced defender Jack Hunt from Bristol City and signing Swansea midfielder George Byers, Boro winger Marvin Johnson and ex Millwall striker Lee Gregory this week. In addition they have season-long loan deals for Burnley goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Middlesbrough midfielder Lewis Wing, nineteen year old Wolves striker Theo Corbeanu and St Gallen forward Florian Kamberi who scored one goal for Aberdeen last season in 14 appearances. There will be a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of last season's second top goal scorer Callum Paterson (9 goals in 45) as top scorer Josh Windass (10 in 44) tore a hamstring in pre-season and Jordan Rhodes has departed for Huddersfield. Former Charlton loanee Andre Green may well be in the starting line-up on Saturday.
In contrast, Charlton have not yet plundered the loan market and will consequently begin the game with a strong first eleven but an inexperienced bench. The squad will no doubt soon be supplemented but Nigel Adkins has made much of his readiness to give youth a chance. We are likely to see cameo appearances from the likes of Josh Davison, Charles Claydon, Charlie Barker, Aaron Henry and Deji Elerewe over the next few weeks.
There will be plenty to enjoy on Saturday - being back together at The Valley; welcoming Thomas Sandgaard; saluting Alan Curbishley; creating an intimidating atmosphere; maybe witnessing new (old) mascots. The game itself is unlikely to be a feast of goals. A narrow home win would be great but, if we fail to carry off all three points, it will not be proof that the season is already a write-off.
The club's protocols and timetable: