Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Still Hoping

Obviously Saturday didn’t exactly go according to the script: no late transfer window sales (and bids rejected), a couple of potentially exciting additions, plus evidence that our daft and absent owner is actually communicating with those at the club who might know something about football (obviously these have risen in percentage terms with Meire’s departure), just needed three points and a return to a play-off spot with game(s) in hand to sustain the momentum. I can’t comment on the game itself (and regrettably we are currently two bloggers down, hopefully both will soon be back and fully fit), on the impact of Robinson’s substitutions, but it sounded like although their decisive goals came late we were not exactly robbed.

So be it. I’m just surprised that some seem ready to write off the season. Yes, a change of ownership, hopefully this month (better still today) is the number one priority. But that’s hardly in conflict with getting promoted too. We had no realistic chance of a top-two spot before Saturday, we’ve surrendered three points, but what’s changed? Seventeen games left and we’re two points off a play-off place with two games in hand, behind a side that’s lost five in a row and just sacked their manager, not adrift of others above us, with nobody coming up fast beneath us (except perhaps Southend, under some new manager).

I wouldn’t say we deserve a play-off place, that we are playing well enough to merit one, or that we will get one, let alone that at this stage we would be confident of going up if we get one. We really shouldn’t give a monkey’s. If – and of course these are big ‘ifs’ – we can get key defenders back and if we can find a way to play to maximise the assets we have going forward (whether or not this involves the returning Ajose) there is at least the potential to go into the play-offs in a much better state of mind than at present. Momentum matters so much (so does luck) and there is a chance, no more than that, that the form team with a settled line-up in the closing stages of the season will be us. If we fall apart over the next half-dozen or so games and it all goes to pot, so be it, then we plan for the summer and our third consecutive season in this division (in my lifetime this is our fourth stint in it and so far we’ve never had to suffer more than three seasons before getting back up).

As for Robinson, any speculation over his position at this juncture seems to me to be entirely pointless. If new owners come in and want a different guy in charge, perhaps one that will also want his own support team, fair enough (and if anyone suggests that’s all that Duchatelet did we should remind them that Sir Chris was offered a new contract but refused to sign it because of the terms). In that event hopes do indeed start to be geared around next season. But if I’d just bought the club I’d be focused on the chances of promotion this season. And I fail to see how sacking Robinson at this stage of the season advances that cause, whatever his pros and cons, especially just after we’ve brought in a couple of fresh loan players whose motivation may wane if they feel they’ve landed in a club in transition rather than one going for promotion.

We know (and have known since the start) that Robinson isn’t perfect. Shooting from the hip can be applauded for what it says about openness and honesty; yet we know that actually making sense of what he says can be challenging. My particular favourite of late has been his attitude to players’ workrates. Here are a few recent quotes: “Listen (on) Marshy you don’t see wingers working that hard anywhere up and down the country (and the same with) Ricky Holmes” (before he was sold); “the way I judge players is how hard they work and what they do on the pitch”; and “Karlan has really moved mountains this season, he has worked so hard and I think fans are beginning to see that on the pitch” (before he was shipped out on loan). All well and good, you may say. But then go back to the first (staged) interview he gave on becoming Charlton manager. I wrote this at the time: ‘early in the interview Robinson talked animatedly of “hating” any description of a player's performance as 'hard-working', which he said should be taken as a given (he went on to say when asked what had gone wrong for him at MK Dons that he had 'worked as hard as he could').

We can (and should) forgive the occasional meaningless outburst. But it’s reasonable to question the sort of mindset that the above quotes suggest, whether this is a guy who can perform well under pressure. He is still only 37 years old and we are only the second club he has managed. So time on his side and scope to learn from mistakes, if he can. Either way, if we’re to go up this season we need him and those around him to be at their best as well as the players - and the new owner(s).

1 comment:

john west said...

Very interesting blog and yes it does seem as if Oxford were not to be denied and hit the woodwork twice, but the same story as happened on few times this season, not closing the game up and conceding some appalling goals.
I noticed that there were 7 Charlton players in or near the 18 yard line and only 4 Oxford players yet still found so much room, absolutely incredible.
Yes indeed our two full backs seem to be marking 2 men and frankly why on earth was JJ not on and recently he was against Oldham and another at home and not normally in favour of a centre half, as they do seem to clutter themselves up and sit even deeper.
Why on earth did Bauer not start and yes admittedly think the back four only conceded the one goal recently in the 3 match winning streak, but seriously Konso needs to play RB and Solly no where near his best, but saying this Lennon (yes been out for so long) but always liable to the ghastly mistake.
True at times and especially Bauer last season, but how long is Pearce out a proper leader.
We can not keep tosing chances up and it seems we never take advantage of slip ups from other teams.
Yes fair enough not so long a go we were several points off Bradford and they have lost the last 5 games, yet still 2 points in front and oin a playoff spot at the moment.
Frankly, it does not matter if we might have 2 games in hand and every possibility to throw it all away and hope that we don't,
I will settle for 6th spot on the last game of the season, but hope it does not rely on GD and the only other side we have a better goal difference is Bradford and just perhaps we can get over the line with enough points. Gd could be worth a point at the end of the day
Granted so many points to play for yet and too long to go as well and this T/O what T/O and interested no doubt being priced out.
The players and coaching staff still getting their high wages each week regardless of performances.
We shall see in due course!!!