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Charlton look Championship class act

edited September 2007 in General Charlton
Article from Squarefootball

An indifferent start to life back in the Championship after seven years in the top-flight was not totally unexpected for Charlton Athletic, especially given the wholesale changes to the squad during the close season as the financial implications of relegation from the Premiership took its toll.

An opening day draw at home to newly promoted Scunthorpe United was followed by defeat at Stoke City and things were already starting to look bleak when they went in 2:0 down at half-time in their third league game of the campaign, at home to Sheffield Wednesday. A second-half revival saw Andy Reid pull a goal back for the Addicks, before a double strike from Chris Iwelumo secured the victory and got Charlton’s campaign properly up and running.

After those early set-backs, Alan Pardew’s rebuilt squad now appear to be well into their stride, with Saturday’s 2:0 win at home to Leicester City leaving them second in the table behind Watford. The subsequent Carling Cup exit at Luton Town could even prove beneficial, enabling Charlton to concentrate on their primary target of an immediate return to the Premiership.

Pardew was always well aware that relegation from the Premiership would necessitate a major cost-cutting exercise, one that would necessitate something of a dismantling of last season’s squad. The loss of star turns such as Darren Bent and Luke Young was widely anticipated, while Scott Carson’s growing reputation put paid to any chance of him spending a second season on loan at The Valley. In truth, there were few other departures that look too damaging, with some – Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dennis Rommedahl spring to mind – looking to be beneficial to the club both financially and from a playing perspective.

The squad may have undergone a complete overhaul since relegation, but Pardew looks to have brought in the players capable of regaining the club’s top-flight status at the first attempt. The depth of attacking options at the manager’s disposal looks as good as the club has had for many a year, with Luke Varney, Chris Iwelumo, Izale McLeod and Svetoslav Todorov providing the Addicks with a quartet of strikers that will be the envy of all their Championship peers.

There is a nice balance to the Charlton squad now. The midfield has been largely unaffected by relegation, while the deadline day loan deals for Danny Mills and Sam Sodje has brought some much needed depth to Pardew’s defensive options.

If Charlton are to regain their place among the elite, this is the season to do it. History suggests that if they don’t make it at the first time of asking, it certainly isn’t going to get any easier. There is enough quality in the ranks to suggest the stay in the second tier should be a short one.


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