Charlton head coach, Guy Luzon, referred to this long-awaited win against Brentford as "the first step" and he is correct. As much as he should rightly enjoy the feeling of a good victory, the real hard work remains convincing us all that this level of performance can be maintained and, most importantly, relied upon as we fight for Championship survival. Three months without a win and some of the worst Charlton performances I've seen in over two decades have left me completely numb in recent weeks, and the cynical side of me remains unconvinced that yesterday was the product of whatever Guy Luzon brings to the club.
Trust me, I will be delighted to proved wrong about Luzon, but one good victory will not change my opinion just yet. None the less, credit where credit is due, Luzon sent out a team that had good shape and he was brave enough to make some big decisions. Henderson was back in goal after a lengthy spell out through injury, Cousins was moved into the middle at the expense of the underperforming, Buyens and Bikey was dropped to allow Johnson to make a decent Charlton debut. Up top, the effervescent Tony Watt partnered Vetokele. The balance throughout the side looked so much better.
The return of Henderson for Dmitrovic was, for me, a small-but-significant sign that perhaps Luzon does have the freedom to choose his preferred team over a player from the 'network'.
Pre-match, our skipper, Johnnie Jackson, had publically called for the fans to back the players and despite the shit we've had to put up with in recent times, the supporters that somehow found the will to head to the Valley done just that. For now an indication the fans will still back the team if not the regime. After the game Johnnie took to twitter to thank the fans for playing 'a huge part in that win' before reassuring us all they 'wouldn't keep you waiting another 3 months'.
In truth, all you can rightfully expect as a football fan is total commitment from your team, and yesterday we got it. Backing the team in that circumstance is easy. Thankfully we were rewarded with three vital points.
For me, the three chaps noted in the image were the stand-out players, with Bulot the real surprise. My annoyance of Bulot in previous games is that he's looked disinterested; like a player unwilling to take responsibility, especially going forward. Until yesterday he'd made no positive contribution to Charlton's season and I wouldn't have cared if I'd never seen him in a Charlton shirt again. The Bulot we saw yesterday was unrecognizable to the one seen drifting through games previously. Keep that up, fella, and you'll have my backing.
The fact I made Bulot my Man of The Match proving how football can change in a flash and make an arse of your opinions. As I said before, I'm happy to be proved wrong. Perhaps if Bulot had not capped a fine performance with a neatly taken goal, my accolade would have gone to Watt, who's passion and desire spread throughout the team. The unselfish way in which he set up Igor for Charlton's second, when he could have gone for goal himself, hinted towards the improved unity in the team. A great moment.
So, despite huge trepidation pre-match, and without any sensible cause to be optimistic, it was a good day. I enjoyed a nice pint with friends pre-match, Charlton finally put in a shift that we could be proud of and we all got to enjoy our Saturday night for a change. Let's hope we can continue in the same fashion on Friday and beyond. This cannot be a one-off.