After massive improvements in performance by Charlton over their last few games, losing just 2 in their last 7, the turn of form has seemingly been without reward as other results have gone against them. The Addicks now are 10 points away from safety but have a poor goal difference which means they will most definitely need to win all of their remaining 5 games to avoid relegation. At the moment, however, the men in red seem to struggle to finish their chances with the pressure of relegation troubling the whole club, from the players to the fans. With all these great performances coming now it’s worth wondering if they had found this form earlier would they be in this predicament now?
Firstly, focusing on the finishing ability of the team, Charlton are creating many chances as of late, most notably against Ipswich where it ended as a 0-0 draw and against QPR where they lost 2-1. The Addicks had the better of the chances in both games and should’ve got 6 points, however, football isn’t a game of what should’ve been and eventually the red’s defence were punished by the latter, QPR, late on. An extra 5 points in Charlton’s situation at the moment would’ve seen them placed 22nd and 5 points behind 21st Rotherham. This proves that these 6 points dropped recently could mean relegation at the end of the season. Charlton have won 3 games since the beginning of March, however, all of the goals scored have been by wide men or midfielders and even defenders. A striker hasn’t scored for the Addicks since Sanogo’s hat-trick against Reading which was the last week in February. This also highlights the difference between having, or in Charlton’s case not having, a key finisher in the side.
Second reason isn’t really something you can avoid but Charlton have been plagued with injuries throughout the course of the season. During some stages of the season, at least a third of their best team have been out injured at least once with a few long-term injuries thrown in. Ahmed Kashi who was a solid defensive midfielder for the Addicks has been injured since late August and still hasn’t returned to the side which has proved to be a big miss, especially with some of the really poor defensive displays by covering players on show over the winter period. Another injured player, who is back in the side now, was Igor Vetokele. previously mentioned that Charlton didn’t have a key finisher, but this man is the one you would want that ‘big chance’ to fall to and he has been out more or less all season and had also considered retirement; he’s only 24. For the first time in 2016 Vetokele has come back into the team but has struggled to find form possibly due to the lack of consistent playing time.
Finally Karel Fraeye. For Charlton fans, this is going to bring back frustration and rightly so. Guy Luzon was sacked after a 3-0 home loss to Brentford in October and the board put Fraeye in charge as interim manager. He lost his first 2 games then won his next 2. There on after the team went on a slippery slope. Charlton fans thought he’d be gone after his first month but he remained in charge past November and December through to mid-January without improving results for the club. The board finally decided to get rid of him before reappointing Jose Riga in the hope he’d repeat his antics of 2 seasons ago when he saved the Addicks from relegation. He has slowly made the team better but, had this decision been made way earlier Charlton may not be in the mess they’re in now. Let’s just say the performances we are seeing now were never seen when Fraeye was interim.
So there it is, reasons why Charlton’s season could’ve ended all so differently. While they are sure to join Bolton in relegation to League One, Jose Riga is still refusing to throw in the towel telling BBC London after their most recent defeat to QPR, “If there is one chance in 10, 20 or 30 then we have to take it”. It’s the sort of things a manager say’s in his position, but nearly all Charlton fans have given up now and hope that these performances on show currently can be repeated next season in League One for an instant promotion.
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