With the Blackwall Tunnel shut southbound my journey to the Valley took twice as long as usual yesterday. I decided to gamble on the ferry being a better route than Tower Bridge, but the suggested 30mins wait was more like 1h & 30mins. Predictably around this time of year there was plenty of talk on the radio regarding football clubs around the country that faced 'massive games' at either end of the table and I couldn't help but feel a strong sense of jealousness for those teams involved in the chase for promotion. Of course, Rochdale would have been amongst them at the start of proceedings, but they looked a million miles away from a side capable of winning a place in the Play-Off's. For all the wrong reasons, Rochdale's performance reminded me of some of the worst aspects of Charlton this season. It was like watching Charlton play Charlton at times.
I took my seat at the Valley just in time to see the surprising captain choice of BWP shaking hands with the ref and his opposite number. I'd love to know Powell's reasoning behind giving the armband to BWP over the more obvious choice of Fortune or the Doc. It reminded me of Sunday morning football, where managers would typically give the armband to the teams (perceived) best player, more often than not to stop him leaving for a better club!
There was no doubt that the performance was better from Charlton, although this may well be more to do with the dire opposition. The desires to retain possession and play a shorter passing game was notable, if at times a little slow and predictable. I do wish sections of the Valley crowd would refrain from showing frustrations in the team passing backwards on occasions: sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward again. There were the obvious reminders of why Charlton are mid-table, not least of all the poor deliveries into the box (Benson's effort for the 3rd goal the notable exception). But if I had to put my finger on the greatest reason Charlton have massively under-performed this season I would say that the central mid-field have just not been able to pass the ball well enough and dominate games. I missed not seeing Semedo yesterday, but the sight of two central mid-field players who made themselves available and were capable on the ball is food-for-thought for Powell who will need to find similar players for next season (I don't think either Stewart or Parrot will be at The Valley come August).
I thought Racon had a decent game yesterday. In many ways, he looks like a player that is trying to reinvent himself as a left-sided mid-fielder and on recent form I've been reasonably impressed. Perhaps he knows his days as a first choice central mid-fielder at Charlton are up and if he wants a new deal he needs to prove his worth elsewhere on the pitch. Whether Racon will be at Charlton next season only time will tell.
It's good to hear the season ticket sales are progressing well (apparently better than last year's total to date, as suggested in the matchday programme). It's hugely surprising though - especially given the awful season we've had - but fair play to the Addickted and also the Chairman, who's begging letter appealing for fans to 'not give up on Charlton' may well have done the trick in many cases. I had a friend round for Sunday dinner recently and he was pressing me about the demise of Charlton (he's a Spurs fan). I showed him the Chairman's letter and he was left speechless. By coincidence, I renewed my season ticket the same day as the letter dropped through my letterbox.
So two games left, and the season can't end quick enough.