Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Forest Felled...

I always look forward to a night game at the Valley, but despite the recent up-turn in fortunes I couldn't see us getting much out of an in-form Nottingham Forest. Walking to the Valley last night my heart sank a little when I read the team. Players absent through injury will obviously enforce changes, but I wasn't convinced by the choice of replacements.

What do I know? From the outset Charlton competed well against a very good side and appeared as disciplined and well organized as I think I can ever recall. Luzon may not be too familiar with Championship football, but he clearly done his homework on the visitors.

When Watt was felled on the edge of their box after just 7 mins you could have been mistaken for lamenting the loss of free-kick specialist, Gudmundsson, but up stepped Bulot to fire us in front with a goal not too dissimilar to the one Johann scored on Saturday. Keeper no chance. Antonio equalised soon after, but Bulot restored Charlton's lead just before half time after some decent play down the right from Wilson.

In Frederic Bulot, Charlton have as good as a new signing. The Bulot that ambled about the pitch, offering nothing whatsoever and showing even less interest under Bob Peeters has reinvented himself under Luzon. My fellow Charlton blogger, Brian Haines, suggested to me via Twitter last night that he "got the feeling that Peeters insisted players keep to a strict role, whereas now they're much freer to improvise". It was a great point. It would appear a number of players have benefited from this freedom to express themselves in their more natural game and Charlton's form has improved as a result. Credit once again to Luzon.

Credit also to the way Luzon made a couple of decisive half-time changes that made Charlton more competitive in key areas. Gomez was moved to the right of defence, replacing Wilson, and instantly got tighter and more physical against the impressive wide-man, Antonio. In the reorganization Bikey came on for the hapless Harriott, who managed to somehow injure himself falling over his own feet.

I felt Charlton coped with the steady wave of Forest attacks well, absorbing the threat time and time again. Having witnessed the decline under Peeters, I don't even want to imagine what sort of scoreline we'd have faced against this lot just a few weeks ago, but Charlton's resolve has returned in abundance.

Tony Watt's hold-up play near the corner flag, sapping vital injury time seconds, was brilliant. A real moment to remember. Footage of the incident can be found here. That kid has the potential to become a future Charlton legend, up there with Darren Bent of recent times, perhaps even Mendonca if you want to go back further.

We held on for a very well-earned victory. Three more points to Championship safety.

After the game Luzon stated that he was "proud to coach this team". Well, Guy, I have to say that your impact is far greater than I ever thought possible when you took over and I doff my hat in your direction. Your mark and personality on the team is visible now, and I'm pretty impressed with the recent up-turn in form. What pleases me more is that unity on the pitch has returned. I can accept defeats along the way if I know the players are giving everything.

When I see total commitment and a winning Charlton team I cannot be happier.

I have no problems admitting that I wrote Luzon off way too early, although I would add in my defense that I failed to find anyone who had anything good to say about Luzon and his appointment and 'network' connections left a hugely bitter taste in my mouth (still does, if I'm honest). I fell for Riga quite quickly (even after the agony of losing Powell) and I was also keen on Peeters from the outset, but my starting point with Luzon couldn't have got lower. In reality, that's something I have to deal with a bit more fairly and positively now.

In fairness to Luzon, he's keeping his end of the bargain.


  1. As you are aware, I really wasn't impressed with the shoddy way Luzon was given the job. If RD had just been a little more honest and stated Luzon was being moved in from the network to take over from Peeters we'd have found it easier to accept. We were lead to believe there were going to be interviews and a 'proper' search.
    None of this happened and Guy Luzon was presented to an already pissed off support as the 'best' option.
    Without knowing anything about him, we weren't keen.
    We are now seeing a bit of a turnaround. The opportunity to see what he can do over a series of games has made me warm to him- BUT the simple fact is no matter how excellent he may prove to be, there's nothing to say he won't be moved along at the end of May for another Roland chap to take over.
    Sad eh?

    1. Good points, Marco. As promising as the last few games have undoubtedly been, it will take some almighty convincing for me to believe Luzon truly is the 'long term' answer.

      There appears to be no longevity or stability to players / managers at any of Duchatelet's clubs, which is worrying.