Championship Preview: Charlton

Charlton hit the 2012/13 season with an absolute bang and following on from such success, there were even hopes that the Addicks could launch a mild bid for the Premiership last season. As it turns out, they have taken several steps backwards and are actually classed as one of the favourites for the drop. Most bookies are placing them at around 3/1 for relegation and despite revamping their squad over the course of the season, it would be fair to say that optimism is at a premium amongst the club’s supporters.

What happened last season?

Hopes were high, but achievements were low throughout the 2013/14 campaign. Chris Powell was regarded as one of the most sought-after young managers in the Championship following his work at the Valley, but for whatever reason things just didn’t click throughout the whole of the season. Admittedly, there were numerous issues out of his control – and the fact that Charlton’s pitch was unplayable for large portions of the season due to drainage problems meant that they were constantly playing catch-up with the teams around them.

Many supporters were still in favour of Powell’s management, but the Addicks board still opted for a change in March. Nobody quite knew what to make of the appointment of Belgium Jose Riga but he was soon to become a cult-hero at the Valley. Out of nowhere, he masterminded a string of sterling results that lifted the club from the bottom of the division right the way to safety. He masterminded seven wins and three draws from the sixteen games he took charge of and in the end Charlton were home and dry – they finished the term in 18th position.

Has it been a busy summer?

Of course, the above was only papering over the cracks. Riga himself decided that his job at the Valley was over, walking away from the club immediately after the season finale. In his place came another Belgium manager, with Bob Peeters arriving from Waasland-Beveren. Nobody quite knows much about Peeters’ managerial credentials, although something that some fans have flagged is the fact that he did have a brief playing spell for rivals Millwall. In other words, if things do start to go wrong, you can’t see Charlton supporters remaining very patient.

There is no doubt that Peeters has been busy since his arrival though, with no fewer than eleven players coming into the club. At the back, the club have strengthened immensely with two players who bring a huge physical presence and crucial experience. Andre Bikey and Tal Ben Haim have both arrived on free transfers and while you can’t deny that their best days are behind them, they will still be able to make a terrific difference to any Championship outfit.

Elsewhere, the bulk of the club’s business has come in from abroad. The club have taken advantage of their foreign ownership links to bring in the likes of Igor Vetokele, George Tucudean, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Yoni Buyens and suffice to say, the jury is well and truly out for the time being.

However, some fans might be a little concerned about the players who have left the club. After making such an impression last season, many are disgruntled to have lost hot prospect Diego Poyet and he will leave a huge gap in the Addicks’ midfield. Richard Wood has opted to move back to the North of the country and joins Rotherham, while elsewhere the club lost Ben Hamer and Dorian Dervite to Leicester and Bolton respectively following the expiry of their contracts. The loss of the former will certainly hit them hard considering Hamer’s impressive performances between the sticks, although Peeters did bring in the experienced Stephen Henderson from West Ham to act as a direct replacement.

What’s the prediction?

As for a prediction, we hold a lot of concerns about Charlton’s prospects. Bob Peeters has absolutely no experience at this level and while the club have brought in a lot of players, many of these are unproven at this level and you’d have to assume that few are going to be able to crack the pressures of the Championship. Bearing this in mind, we foresee a difficult campaign for Charlton and after beating the drop last term, we don’t think they’ll be able to match up to such a finish and will be relegated to League One.

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