The spirited and strong 10-man performance shown by the Red Army on Saturday at the Macron Stadium has somewhat revitalised and revived a possible playoff dream for Charlton Athletic.
A rather lackluster and simply underwhelming first half of the season under Russell Slade, the performances under Slade showing no intent for a promotion push, and could have possibly created too much of a hill to climb as a result. When the Coventry manager was at The Valley his side recorded some woeful results including:
- 3-0 away defeat with Swindon Town
- 1-1 away draw with Gillingham
- 1-1 away draw with Port Vale
- 1-1 home draw with Oldham Athletic
- 2-1 home defeat with AFC Wimbledon
- 1-1 home draw with Northampton Town
- 2-0 away defeat with Bury
Some of the results listed above could be questioned, and maybe with hindsight are easier to criticise. However, these are all the teams Charlton Athletic are now sitting above, and in all honesty, not much has changed in the squad in terms of accessible resources. Instead, an anti-expansive, anti-expressive, anti-attacking Russell Slade side meant that Charlton only secured four points out of a possible 21 in the games listed above, which on paper should have most definitely been won!
If Charlton had secured all 21 points from those games, this post would be discussing if we could win the league or finish in an automatic spot.
However, Karl Robinson has now taken the Charlton job, and is on a five-game unbeaten run, and proved on Saturday that his side is up for the fight to chase the promotion play-off positions. Jake Forster-Cakey also reinforced this idea when talking to the South London Press, where he emphasised that all the players at the club do not want to settle for mid-table and will fight hard to make sure Charlton have a chance to return to the second tier.
The Addicks currently sit in 11th, six points off the final play-off position with two games in-hand. The two games we have in-hand are Rochdale and Scunthorpe.
Charlton will play 7 games in the month of February and will be a defining month for the team. A true test to see if they can grind out results and ride the wave of positive momentum to a strong promotion play-off position.
Robinson and the squad have an extremely tough challenge ahead, but it is clear that under Robinson the players want to perform for the manager, the fans, and the badge. The deadline for the January transfer window – which Robinson is not a fan of due to inflated prices – is on Tuesday, and the manager confirmed in his press conference on Saturday he does have money, so let’s hope that there will be one or two more additions to help push on for the rest of the season.
Do I think we can realistically finish in the top six?
If we can get results from the more difficult teams, as well as pick up the expected points from the teams below us, then there is no reason why not. But let there be no confusion, one hell of a challenge lays ahead for the Addicks!