Charlton’s season may be described differently by various people but poor and unlucky are the obvious two candidates. Whatever you call it doesn’t change the fact the Addicks are seven points away from safety as they enter the last 10 games of the season. A bore draw with MK Dons on Tuesday evening has left most fans questioning their belief if Charlton can beat the drop this year after only managing a point in this crucial ‘six point fixture’. The question, which has been on the mind of Charlton fans since the start of 2016, is how can the club break their poor run of form and survive this season? I will go through 3 things that could improve and potentially preserve the club’s position in the second tier.
Charlton are the second lowest scoring team in the Championship and when you are 23rd in the table and fighting for your life to stay up, you can’t enforce a counter attacking style of play. The club cannot afford to sit back and wait for an opening. Against Brentford where the team actually pushed forward, they came away with three points. Jose Riga at home games tends to not take any chances and plays a defensive tactic which when the number one priority at the moment is goals and winning games does’t really make sense.
Break the ‘Charlton habit’
Secondly, the club need to break the ‘Charlton habit’. The number of games this season where Charlton dominate the first half hour and then concede just before half time against the run of play is incredible. Then in the second half, the Addicks dominate until the 60th minute mark then go 2 down. They occasionally get one back but then give up until the 85th minute where the team go all out for a point but it is too little too late. The number of games where this ‘system’ has taken effect means it’s not bad luck on the part of Charlton. The only explanation must be psychological and needs to be kicked out of the players to restore their belief and keep their focus for the full 90 minutes. The players are letting their form from previous games effect their performance and they need encouragement to get them playing their best.
The longest point has been left until last because it is something that might surprise a few; the fans. Most will know by now Charlton fans have been protesting against their owners this season. This can’t in any way shape or form be helping the players. I’m not suggesting that the protests should be stopped all together, the owners are ruining the club and it has got too serious to postpone until the new season. However, the issue I have is that the protests are being taken into the ground. There is enough media attention from protesting before and after the game outside the stadium so why protest during the game? The only time this will be beneficial is when it is a game on television. Any other time it can just put unnecessary pressure on the players. At the MK Dons game I was appalled to witness the level of abuse that was hurled at our own players. Admittedly the team weren’t playing well and couldn’t string a pass together in the attacking half but no level of abuse is going to improve that. It’s the kind of abuse that we start slating when used by other teams. Granted it may be a minority but we even say as a part of our protests “support the team, not the regime”. Those who are hurling abuse or protesting inside the ground are just contradicting themselves. I should reinforce that I’m not defending the owners but I’m certainly not defending the fans who boo their own players.
So fixing those 3 things for the final 10 games of the season is probably Charlton’s best hope of surviving. If the club can get 18 out of the 30 points available from their last 10 games then they should stay up. However, the fact they have only got 29 points all season so far shows it is definitely easier said than done. Fans should tone down protests until the new season, really get belief back into the players which can be done and which then may solve the other problems like the attacking mentality of the players. As for the attacking mentality tactic, that needs to be left up to Jose Riga to change but in my opinion he needs to set up his team to go and press the opposition instead of sitting back and inviting them to attack which explains why the club have the worst defensive record in the Football league. All fans can do then, is trust the players to get back to their best and quickly.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Heather.