Let’s face it, this whole descent in to averageness or worse has an all-too-predictable feel about it. Even when things were going well up until mid-December, any regular Addick would have been secretly bracing themselves for the inevitable. It is, unfortunately, oh so very typically Charlton! I’m no great statistician, and my memory isn’t great, but a brief look over my dusty collection of Charlton programmes reveals a common theme throughout the last decade. It will no doubt extend much further back.
That said, in the interest of fair balance, I will go a bit further back as a starting point, and to the hugely memorable Play-Off Final winning season of 1997-98 where we saw the rarity of a glorious winning streak of 11 victories from the final 14 games. As we will all remember, that form carried on in to the Play-Off’s and to the ultimate ‘Greatest Game’ victory at Wembley. After a fairly straight forward relegation from the Premier League in the previous year, the 1999-2000 Championship winning season ended in an unnecessary nail-biting, anti-climax finish as The Addicks won only 3 of their last 12 games of the season. Thankfully, despite doing everything possible to throw away promotion (including that infamous Kiely own goal V’s Swindon), we had won 12 games in a row beforehand! In the 2001-2002 season we were sitting in a very respectable 7th after 30 games before failing to record a single victory in the remaining 8 games, losing 5 in the process before finishing in 14th. We went one better (or worse) in the 2002–2003 season by somehow managing to record just 1 victory in the final 10 games, meaning from a position of 6th after 28 games we finished mid-table. In the 2003–2004 season we actually showed a reasonable amount of consistency and as a result we finished a very respectable 7th. I bet I was totally bored out of my mind that season! After 29 games in 2004-2005 we were in 7th position, before failing to record a single victory in the remaining 9 games, picking up just 3 points in that time before finishing in 11th place. The 2005-06 season saw us win 5 of our first 6 games, before the growing stagnation finally gave way to the slow slide backwards, with The Addicks ultimately finishing in an uninspiring 13th place. Unsurprising, the following season ended in relegation.
Perhaps most worryingly, the similarities with this campaign and the 2007–08 season is most concerning. In that year we were 3rd after 21 games and yet we could only manage to record 6 victories in the remaining 25 games and finished a hugely disappointing 11th. Perhaps even more worryingly is what happened the year following, after Charlton were forced to off-load a number of highly paid individuals. It doesn’t even bear thinking about!
Can lightning strike twice? Of course it can, but, to end on a slightly more positive note, I don’t believe it will. For what it’s worth, my prediction is that we’ll record a victory of sorts this weekend. Football is consistent in only one thing: it’s inconsistency! Just as good runs come to an end, so do bad ones, and even a couple of scrappy 1.0 home victories in our next two games will paint a different picture. Better still, a couple of convincing home victories and we’ll all be rushing to Southend thinking we’re back in the race. I couldn’t care less how bad our recent form has been, we should still view the next two home games as ‘winnable’, and we have the players with both experience and ability to get themselves out of this sticky rut. A Play-Off place will be achieved this season: I’ll be bold in that prediction. You’ll note that I’m not being any braver than that just yet.
Fingers crossed on Saturday. Come on you Addicks!!!