At the end of the 2005/06 season, Charlton Athletic made what I believe to be their worst decision since returning to The Valley in December 1992, by accepting the resignation of then manager Alan Curbishley. Publicly “Curbs” cited needing a rest from football as the reason for his departure, but many, me included, also believe it was due in part to some supporters doubting his ability to take Charlton to the next level; qualifying for European football. What happened the following season was certainly not what the supporters had expected.
Curbishley’s first two successors, Iain Dowie and Les Reed lasted only seven months between them, and when you consider that their predecessor had held the hot-seat for fifteen years, the early signs were there that The Addicks were now heading in the wrong direction. The on field performances of the first team simply provided more evidence to back up this theory, and by the time they’d appointed Alan Pardew, their third managerial appointment of the season, Charlton were languishing in 19th place in the Premier League. Although performances improved under Pardew, he couldn’t prevent the club from being relegated to the Championship.
Charlton were naturally considered one of the promotion favourites for the 2006/07 season but their return to the second tier of English football was a disappointment as an early promotion push tailed off to a disappointing eleventh placed finish.
Things got even worse for The Addicks the following season when, following a 2-5 home defeat to Sheffield United, an eighth consecutive game without a win, Alan Pardew left the club by mutual consent. With the club, one of the pre-season favourites for promotion now in the relegation zone, Pardew’s assistant Phil Parkinson took over the managerial reins. The club’s poor run of form continued under Parkinson, with a new record of eighteen games without a win being set before a 1-0 victory over Norwich City in an FA Cup third round replay. There wasn’t much more Charlton fans had to celebrate for the remainder of the season, and relegation to League One was confirmed following a 2-2 home draw against Blackpool.
Named amongst the favourites for promotion from League One, Charlton spent almost the entire 2009/10 season in the top six, before losing the play-off final second leg to Swindon Town on penalties, with player of the season Nicky Bailey missing the decisive spot kick.
Charlton were again named amongst the promotion favourites for the 2010/11 season, but, following a change of ownership Phil Parkinson was removed as manager. Despite doing a fantastic job on a very limited budget, the new hierarchy at the club didn’t believe that Parkinson was the right man to return them to the Championship. Following Keith Peacock’s brief stint as caretaker manager the Charlton board appointed Charlton legend Chris Powell as the club’s twentieth permanent manager. Despite winning his first four games in charge, a run of eleven games without a win followed and Powell’s team finished a very disappointing thirteenth in the table.
Chris Powell’s first summer as Charlton manager was a very busy one, as he brought nineteen new players to the club. It was clearly evident from all of his dealings in the transfer market that Powell’s ambition for his first full season in charge at The Valley was to secure promotion. Charlton were now entering their third consecutive season in League One. Failure to win promotion this time around could’ve proved catastrophic. Supporters needn’t have worried though as Powell’s men strolled to the title, amassing a club record points tally of 101 in the process.
Inconsistent is probably the best way to describe Charlton’s first season back in the Championship. They have pulled of some fantastic results, defeating Barnsley 6-0 away, and a thrilling 5-4 victory at home against Champions elect Cardiff City. There have also been some woeful performances too, like the home defeats I attended against Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday. With three games remaining of the current season, the club hold ninth position in the league, six points off the final play-off spot and seven clear of relegation.
Speak to Charlton Athletic supporters and the majority will tell you they’ve the right man managing the team in Chris Powell, and they’re probably right. I can’t help to think though, where they might be had Alan Curbishley remained in charge.