Charlton – Chris Powell Rises!
Posted on July 26, 2012 by Sam Cooke
After a five year slump Charlton now seem to be bouncing back after securing last season’s League One title in some style with an eight point cushion. With Chris Powell at the helm many Addicks fans are understandably more excited than they’ve been about the club’s prospects in a good few years. This piece will in part discuss the reasons behind Charlton’s fall from grace and, far more importantly, evaluate and praise Powell for his role in the rebirth of Charlton Athletic FC.
Let’s get the piece started with some rather impressive facts…
- Charlton won League One last season with 101 points. This was Powell’s first full season in charge and also Charlton’s record highest ever league points tally.
- Powell won the League One Manager of the Year award.
- Powell was included in the Independent on Sunday’s annual happy list of top 10 ‘celebrities who inspire’ alongside the likes of Sir David Attenborough. His entry read “Manager of Charlton Athletic, the first senior British football club to achieve promotion this season, he is immensely popular wherever he goes and could well, in the future, be the first black England manager.” Hear, hear.
- Wright-Phillips and Kermorgant (both signings by Powell) scored 34 goals between them.
A total of 5 years passed between the departure of Alan Curbishley and the appointment of Chris Powell, an extended period that was both a demoralising and frustrating time to be a fan of Charlton. A string of managers were unable to help move the club forward, rather, they all combined to drag it down.
Step up Iain Dowie for the award of worst of the bunch, as signings such as Amdy Faye and Djimi Traore amongst others wasted millions. This is at a club that can ill afford to spend so freely. Alan Pardew, the same man who has propelled Newcastle to European qualification, also needs a mention in this regard but he came with the club already in decline.
Put simply in 2006 Charlton were in a very stable position in the Premier League. Fast-forward to 2011 and the same team were languishing in League One with no indication of any immediate Championship return.
It is here that the title of this article is explained. If you have seen the latest in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (and if you haven’t, why?) then you’ll know that when Gotham needed a hero, Batman was there. In 2011 Charlton were in crisis; just when they needed a hero, Chris Powell was there. You guessed it; in this scenario Chris Powell is Batman. (And for what it’s worth Iain Dowie is Bane with Reed, Pardew and Parkinson his loyal henchmen).
After the sacking of Powell’s predecessor, Phil Parkinson, names such as Dennis Wise and Gary Johnson were banded about – the appointment of Chris Powell was a huge shock but for me, and I would imagine for many more, a worrying one too. In his playing days he earned legendary status at the Valley, putting in over 200 appearances during two spells in South East London and was also one of only a handful to secure senior England call-ups during his time there.
As a youngster this is a player whom I personally would have preferred to meet over the likes of Zidane, Figo or any other of the world’s top players at the time. This is not the type of player whose reputation you want diminished by an unsuccessful return to the club as manager, it’s key to remember that this is Chris Powell’s first foray into management – his only previous experience at Leicester as assistant to Paula Sousa and later Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Powell wasted no time in making changes after his appointment, as he put it in his heartfelt post-match speech on the final day of the season; “I came in and it wasn’t my Charlton; it wasn’t our Charlton”. After commencing a clear out at the club and bringing in no less than 25 new players many thought it would take a season for the players to gel, but this was not in Powell’s grand plan.
The club were promoted as champions with a club record number of points in his first full season; signings such as Bradley Wright-Phillips and Michael Morrison were pivotal in this success. Yann Kermorgant is another who needs singling out for some fine performances and some even finer goals. Kermorgant was a bit of a wild card signing from Powell who knew him from his days at Leicester.
In 2010 Kermorgant fell well and truly out of favour with Leicester fans (to the extent that he now has his own ‘tribute’ song) after an admittedly cocky penalty caused them to miss out in the Championship play-off semi-final. But this is a transfer that Powell got very right; Kermorgant’s just signed a contract extension to the delight of Addicks fans everywhere; he regularly showed a battling spirit and certainly has the ability to make the step up to Championship football.
Chris Powell has also succeeded in bedding into the first team set-up academy products such as Chris Solly and Scott Wagstaff. Solly has shined this season and made the position of right back unquestionably his and his alone; his performances have not gone unrecognised as he won club Player of the Season and also narrowly missed out on being crowned PFA League One Fans’ Player of the Year.
There’s been interest from clubs including West Ham but fingers crossed we’re able to hang on to this young talent for at least another season, after all should he leave then in addition to his on pitch performances fans would also miss out on being able to sing the catchiest song on the Valley terraces in some time – Chris Solly, Solly, he’s only ’bout 5’3, he’s better than John Terry, Chris Solly, Solly !
The future’s bright as the club begins life in the Championship this coming season. This is the most optimistic I’ve been about a season since the last time Curbishley was in charge; my reason: at 42 years old Chris Powell has not given this club everything, not yet.
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