The Opposition View - Charlton
1. What were your expectations before the season started? Did you expect to kick on after escaping the drop quite comfortably?
When the completely unknown Bob Peeters was appointed head coach in the summer, bringing with him an air of uncertainty, I don't think there would have been many Charlton fans who would have been brave enough to have predicted anything beyond mid-table (at best). I certainly didn't. Jose Riga had done a great job to keep us up last season but we all knew our team needed major investment in almost every area and I wasn't overly confident it would happen.
2. You seem on course for a comfortable mid-table finish, do you expect any advance on that next season?
In short, no! Unfortunately the true ambitions and intentions of our owner, Roland Duchatelet, is still a subject for much debate and no small amount of concern for many, and despite the obvious rewards of chasing the Premiership dream, he seems content with just including Charlton within his rather weird experimental network of clubs across Europe.
3. Did you agree with the sacking of Bob Peeters? Why did your form go downhill after such a good start?
Big Bob seemed a very likable guy and for the first dozen or so games Charlton were doing superb. His style of keeping possession and playing out from the back took a few teams by surprise, but in truth you didn't need to be a tactical wizard to counter our game plan and before long our results began to suffer badly. The cracks began to form and rumours of him loosing the dressing room circulated. On the pitch it went sour very quickly, and it became pretty obvious Mr. Duchatelet wasn't going to back him with new players during the transfer window, which spoke volumes about his commitment to Peeters. The writing was on the wall really. In truth, the last thing Charlton fans wanted was a new head coach or manager, but Peeters was finished before he really got going!
4. How do you think Guy Luzon has done in his first job in English football? Are you surprised by how well he has adapted?
I cannot deny I was 100% against Luzon's appointment. He represented the wacky world of Mr. Duchatelet's network model perfectly and it stank, quite frankly! How could it be that a man sacked by Mr. Duchatelet three months earlier at another of his clubs is good enough for Charlton? Furthermore, I couldn't find anyone, fans, respected journalists or former players, who had anything good to say about Luzon, which served only to rub salt in the wound. But...the truth is, as hard as it is for me to admit, Guy Luzon has done very, very well. He's made Charlton well organised but at the same time has allowed players freedom to be creative in a way Bob Peeters strict playing style suffocated. Luzon may still have a bit to do before Charlton fans sing his name, but that's because most of us (me very much included) are busy eating huge portions of humble pie!
5. Which Charlton player(s) are really excelling so far this season?
Oddly enough, in those first dozen or so games under Peeters there could have been 5 or 6 early candidates for POTY, not least of all your former player Andre Bikey-Amougou, but it's all very different now. Bikey-Amougou, for example, doesn't feature in Luzon's first choice centre back pairing. Our own youth product, Jordan Cousins, continues to go from strength to strength, particularly when he's played in his preferred position of the centre of midfield. Up front we have two new heroes in the powerful Igor Vetokele and the lively Tony Watt (Watt, Watt) and perhaps the most exciting of all is wide man, Johann Berg Gudmundson, who is proving somewhat of a specialist at converting free-kicks! You have been warned!
6. If you could take any Reading player, who would it be and why?
I've always been impressed with Garath McCleary whenever I've seen him play. He had a great game Monday in your cup win. Charlton have been crying out for quality wide players for years, and him on one side and Gudmundson on the other would do for me.
7. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see from Charlton on Saturday?
We'll go 4-4-2 and I would expect Henderson in goal, Solly, Gomez, Johnson and Fox across the back, Gudmundson, Cousins, Buyens and Bulot in midfield, with Vetokele and Watt (Watt, Watt) up front. Any changes to that might see Ben Haim for Gomez, Diarra for Buyens and Eagles for Bulot.
8. Prediction for the game?
I fancy 2-1 to the much-improved Addicks. We'll sneak the win and be happy with that and we'll all hope your boys stay fit in the next few weeks for your big day out at Wembley.