I don’t quite understand why almost every team in The Championship plays tomorrow afternoon, yet we don’t play until Tuesday night. Possibly it’s the trains, but I did note that Boxing Day’s schedule of games took us to the middle point of the season, 23 games.
Charlton sit in 12th, which represents the lowest place we have occupied all season. The night we beat Derby at home we went 4th, which was our highest point.
Between you and me I still look at the bottom of the table before I peak at the top, but at the halfway point of the season, although there has been frustrations, I can’t help but think that Bob Peeters has done a more than fair job with the squad that was mostly put together for him.
The squad is skeleton thin and Peeters has been forced into pushing young players into the first team. Not to sit on the coach, or even the bench, but to play, and I think in some cases, it has been a step too soon and maybe too far.
I wholeheartedly applaud Duchâtelet and Peeters’ emphasis on youth and the fact that there is a clear passage from the academy to the 1st team can only help keep and attract future stars, but the players need to be ready and good enough, and I have concerns that Duchâtelet has no comprehension of that.
The squad is hideously short on depth and as we have witnessed is only an injury or a suspension away from a bench full of academy players.
Peeters has shown his naivety, tactically and occasionally in public, but he is a young coach still learning, and he has ideas, a passion and a belief about how the game should be played, and that includes reinforcing the Charlton spirit, which is important for me to see.
I do wish he would be a little less cagey and encourage the players to go for the jugular and not sit, but it’s obvious to me that the players are responding to him, and we should too. Any talk of changing Peeters would be harebrained and preposterous.
After Ipswich we’ll wait and see if Roland Duchâtelet supports Katrien Meire and Bob Peeters in the January window, and of course us, the supporters. Let us see and be able to hold onto another building block to help us buy into the future that you have planned for our club.
As for the other teams, Bournemouth fans will be acutely aware that every other team that has topped The Championship at the halfway point in the last 5 years has been automatically promoted. Ipswich and Derby will fancy their chances as well.
I saw both Bournemouth and Ipswich and they carry all the qualities that are needed to win promotion from this division. Teamwork, spirit, a good manager, a goalscorer and confidence. Derby, and I saw them as well, are probably a better team, and it is hard to see beyond these three.
Maybe Boro, as I had them down as challengers pre-season, and one of Blackburn, Norwich and Forest because they have deep squads and players who will score goals.
At the bottom Blackpool look a forlorn sight 10 points from safety. Wigan and Brighton fans won’t be thrilled to know that at least two of the bottom three at the halfway point in each of the last 5 years have dropped.
We know that The Championship does not discrimate when it comes to kicking ‘big names’ further down the ladder, but in August I don’t think many would have predicted Brighton and Wigan’s league position at Christmas.
By the way ex-Addicks U21 development coach Nathan Jones looks in pole position to be the next Brighton head coach/manager. Brighton are one of 9 of the 11 bottom teams that have replaced their manager already this season.
Talking of big clubs, champions of Europe Leeds are in the relegation mix too, as are Millwall, but if the well supported clubs are looking for a weak link, like last season, then only Rotherham really offer any hope of ‘smaller fry’ being caught up in the relegation net.
Our league position is a lot healthier than it was a year ago, and Peeters as I said deserves credit, but we would not be Addicks if we were not acutely aware that only Brighton have gone longer without a win than us.
Goals, squad depth, more ambition and less inertia during games all need to be addressed, but just above halfway at the halfway house is halfway decent in my eyes.