The Charlton Fans' Season Preview: Dale Stephens Can Be The Pirlo Of The Championship

Charlton smashed League One with ease, but the buoyant optimism has gradually faded to fearful bewilderment after a pre-season of inactivity in the transfer market...
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The Charlton fans’ season preview:


Pre Season: Good, bad or ugly?

Good on the pitch, bad everywhere else.  The team has won most of their friendlies and looks like a united group, so that’s positive. Other than that we’ve failed to make any signings of proven quality at this level, our board is dissolving and we have no clear financial backing. Gulp.

Hopes for the season

Consolidation and a top half finish. We should be aiming to be the best London team in the Championship - six points against both Millwall and Crystal Palace would be nice. Beyond that I just want to see us hold our own in a new league – repeating the achievements of Norwich and Southampton would be unrealistic after a summer of non-investment.

Fears for the season

Boardroom uncertainty will turn into certain disaster. We go bankrupt. We go into administration. Our squad fails to adapt to a new league. Chris Powell gets sacked in panic. All vey drastic but after the five seasons that preceded the last I’m ready to believe anything is possible for Charlton.

Absolute bare minimum you’ll accept

Survival. A team that smashes their way to promotion with 101 points should not be heading straight back down.

Fixture you’re most looking forward to?

Birmingham away. Our first match back in the Championship.

Got the right manager?

I was certain of it at the end of last season and I am certain of it now. Fans do need to remember that despite the achievements of last season Powell is still learning his trade. He has never managed at this level before and took a while in League One before he got it right. Be patient.

By Christmas you’ll be...

8th. We’ll do better during the first half of the season as I expect a lot of teams to under-estimate us at first.

Player you’d most like to sign

Matt Phillips from Blackpool. Not a signing that’s going to happen but on the off chance the Sultan of Brunei wants to venture into football with Charlton this season then Phillips would be my first recommendation to his majesty. He looked like the perfect Championship winger for Blackpool last season. Young, hungry, exciting but not very cheap; he ticks all of the boxes bar one.

Which player should we look out for?

The expected answer here would be the Frenchman Yann Kermorgant, our version of Cantona, yet I would opt instead for Dale Stephens. Stephens could potentially be one of the best passers in the league; at the beginning of last season especially he showed the kind of probing vision that suggested he would be our star player (type in Dale Stephens assist vs Bury on youtube for a stunning example). At times however Stephens was either muscled out of a game or simply didn’t look up for it. Many feel that The Championship will be a more hospitable environment for Stephens’ talents, others feel he will find it even harder to survive. Here’s to hoping he can be our npower Pirlo.

Which player would you love to ditch?

Harsh question. But if there is one player whose name on the team sheet is always met with an inner groan and rolled eyes it is probably Leon Clarke. I was disappointed with the deal that sent him to Crawley – it was only on loan.

Opposition hate figure

Danny Murphy. He was booed relentlessly at Fulham and I am sadistically (and quite pathetically) looking forward to more of the same when he visits the Valley with Blackburn. Make no mistake; Murphy left Charlton after a tantrum of Tevez-esque proportions. He left in pursuit of England caps and got none. Karma.

Tell us something we don’t know about your club

We got our nickname from a fish & chips shop.

What won’t happen this season?

Charlton getting more than 11.5 seconds of highlights on the Football League Show.

Favourite Chant

Where will you finish?

8th – 13th. Back to what we used to do best – midtable mediocrity.

Any other news?

We officially have the least glamorous sponsor in the league – Keith Andrews Air Conditioning/Heat for Hire.

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