How typically Charlton! I'm not sure what disheartened me more on Saturday: the obvious disappointment of defeat after another abject performance or the gut-wrenching sadness of such a sizable missed opportunity when the Valley was once again packed to near-full following the excellent marketing efforts from the club to woo back those fans lost in the clubs demise. The percentage of those who will return against Carlisle a week tomorrow will not be easily noticeable as the stark difference in gate highlights the mammoth task Charlton have in turning the clubs fortunes around. Chris Powell will not be naive to importance of that lost opportunity (even if some of the players are), but with his honeymoon period firmly over, we need him more than ever to lift the spirits of the Addickted. Clutching at straws it might be, but at least the fans never turned on the team. things could so easily have turned ugly as the game slipped away. It seems near-impossible for me to comprehend, but I guess there is a slim chance that there would have been willing Mum's and Dad's who would have bought their young children along for an affordable day out at the football (possibly a first experience) and may well have actually enjoyed it: we did see goals, after all.
But in reality, we have seen it all many times before. Charlton build up a day to something more like the final game of the season when promotion is just a point away, and we blow it every time. How fantastic it was to see the approach roads to The Valley bustling with hopeful fans. I've not forgotten those sights that were so common-place in the Premiership, although sometimes I truly wish I could so they wouldn't seem so poignant. Decent pre-match entertainment lifted the mood still further. My Mum came to the game with me and I would have so dearly loved her to have seen the Addicks put on a show so she could experience the Valley reverberating in hopeful unison. When the Valley was packed week-in week-out during the Premiership years, tickets were harder to come by unless I compromised my usual vista half way up the East Stand overlooking the half way line, so days like Saturday don't come around too often. I wonder how long we'll wait for the next one?
Whilst off the pitch the club are showing brave and encouraging steps forward, the obvious problems on the pitch remain. I will not cast aside Powell's four straight wins as manager before the two recent defeats, but even the most hardened optimist would not have failed to notice the frailties throughout that decent run of results. It is a fair point that we've have some sizable slices of luck recently, and it was always likely to run out. Until Powell solves the issue of how easily and consistently the play breaks down in a central midfield that seriously lacks a ball-playing, attack-minded footballer, then Charlton will sadly remain a club rooted within the third tier of English football. Passing the ball through the team has been too much for Charlton for 5-6 years now (since Danny Murphy left, perhaps). CP must trawl every contact in his phone book to try and bring in someone on loan before it's too late. Sadly, a player of quality won't be easy to find with what Charlton could afford to pay in wages. Automatic promotion seems a world away, and even the odds of success through the Play-Off's appears to be diminishing as the games pass by.
A tough game beckons on Friday night - when I'm less than hopeful of getting anything from the game - before a tricky midweek game at The Valley a week tomorrow. Mid-table looks more likely now than the top of the league.
Yet again Charlton search desperately for a spark of inspiration!
Looks like I'll have to keep on dreaming...ever hoping!