If the sign of a team headed for promotion is the ability to grind out a result when not playing well, then Charlton are in good shape for a return to the second division. This was not a good game, and Charlton did not play well, but still sit second in the table this morning, a single goal being the difference separating them from top spot. Was I the only one though that felt a little flat at the conclusion yesterday?
On Tuesday night I watched Charlton on Sky, in a spit and sawdust pub in Northampton, labouring to a draw against a well organised Sheffield Wednesday side. What was telling for me was the difference in how Powell and Megson reacted when things weren't going their way. Twenty minutes in and Megson knew his side were in trouble, unable to cope with Charlton's free flowing play, so what did he do? He changed it of course, and whilst Wednesday never looked like winning, neither did they look like they were going to be the losing side after their manager had altered the formation that had struggled in the early period of play.
Powell, however, never looked like he was able to change the side that had started so well. Euell for Hayes does not constitute tactical thinking, and so the game petered out as a contest, both sides seemingly content with the stalemate. Others have mentioned it, and I agree with the theory that Powell really doesn't seem to have a Plan B. This may in part be down to personnel, but I also believe he needs to exercise some tactical nous, and I am not convinced that he has that ability in his armoury yet.
Robinson at MK Dons is voted manager of the month for August, and he would be the first to admit that the award is as much for the wise old head, and shrewd tactician that is his number two. Powell does not have a Gorman to consult, and sorry but no, Peacock does not fall into that category. The problem that Charlton are now facing is that our newly rebuilt team is no longer an unknown to the other teams in the division. They now know who we are, and they know where we live, and unless Powell starts to mix it up a little, someone is going to find us out.
I doubt if it would have been yesterday, as Exeter lacked the cutting edge to cause Charlton too many problems. This lack of bite was compounded when Nardiello, incensed after a perfectly good goal had not been given, decided to abuse the East Stand lino to the extent that he got a straight red for his efforts. After that, it was only a question of when Charlton's patient but on occasions frustratingly ineffective probing would produce a result.
My man of the match yesterday eventually found a way through, after some clever interplay between himself and the underrated Hayes, saw Wright-Philips tuck away his fifth goal of the season. He should have been more careful about his goal "celebration" though, as he could easily have picked up a yellow for taunting the Exeter fans who had been giving him abuse all match. Stephens attoned for his miss on Tuesday night, by ensuring that his shot never left the deck to rack up the second with ten minutes to go, and that was that. Game over.
Hopefully the second string will get the chance against Preston in the Carling Darling Cup on Tuesday, and in one sense this otherwise meaningless competition is important. Players like Bover and Evina may well be the answer to Charlton's need for renewed and varied impact. The return of Green would also be welcome, if only to provide an alternative to Wagstaff, who I would also rate as an impact option. I believe the time to change things a little is upon us. I just wonder if Powell will take the opportunity.