Karl Robinson resumes his scholarly rivalry with Charlton when Oxford United come to town at the weekend. Unfortunately the result of this is unlikely to be purely academic as the home side need to don their thinking caps to find a way out of the recent dip in form.
Oxford is a seat of learning, but many of us at Charlton will hope that by the time the school bell rings on Saturday afternoon, we will have created a few degrees of separation between ourselves and their local football team. Presently Oxford's university might be close to the top of the league tables, but the football team under the tutelage of Karl Robinson is hovering near the dreaded relegation zone of League One. Unfortunately, if history has taught us any lessons, it is that said subject has a habit of repeating itself. Too many ex-Charlton figures come back to haunt us.
Let us hope then, that Karl Robinson has no early Halloween at The Valley. This season will certainly have taught him that past form is no guide to the present. His Oxford side had been impressive in previous seasons and some might say their promotion challenge was another victim of Covid 19 in that ill-fated 2019/20 season, but they come to us as visitors, holding 19th place in League One.
As such, they will definitely want to take the bull by the horns on Saturday. But so will we and fans are certainly in a bullish mood after some recent developments on and off the pitch. If there was to be a first semester report card written for Charlton it would most definitely read 'has not quite lived up to expectations despite early promise.' Indeed, we seem in danger of the Karl Robinson era soon being seen as part of halcyon days when we could hope to hit at least 60 points per season.
This season is still in such early stages we can hope to gather momentum in the right direction. As such we need a win against Oxford on Saturday afternoon. Nothing less will suffice. Three points, or everything, even at this stage of the season, points to trouble. If Oxford beat us, they are above us. Hopefully though, they will not do that and we can kick start our season.
If football teaches us anything, nobody is too big to struggle and go down from this division. Most likely, when at full strength, we can more than hold our own and the manager needs time to stamp his own authority and style on the team. Since he hasn't been given investment, time is the least he deserves. But to get that time, we need to beat the likes of Oxford below us to make sure that the Back to the Valley celebrations versus Cheltenham are not marred by a relegation battle.
Hopefully this Saturday will dispel any such fears.