Febuary review can be found here
After three successive defeats to end February, the hope was that the bad spell was out the way. Starting March
in 7th place, just two points off the play-offs and 8pts off the automatic spots, a strong month where games came thick and fast would send the Addicks right back into the promotion mix.
What resulted however was nothing short of disastrous. March would bring just three points out of a possible twenty four, and see the Reds end the month slumped in 13th position, 12pts adrift of the play-offs and 20pts adrift of the automatic spot.
What just a few weeks ago had Charlton looking the main contender for a strong finish to the season, was now raising serious questions on just what exactly was going wrong. Were the players not good enough? Where they not playing for the manager? Was the new manager completely out of his depth? Were we just simply sheer unlucky ? All these questions were being raised and the truth was that no one seemed to have a clue what the right answer was. The squad clearly did not have the quality to match that of Brighton and Southampton, but equally it was still far superior to a the vast majority of also-rans and strugglers in the division who were now picking us off at will.
In hindsight, it appears clear (to me) that after a short spell of poor form, it become obvious that very few players would have a future at the club the following season. From then, the bit of extra spark, determination and squad togetherness gelling for the cause, that you desperately need in successful run-ins, just simply wasn’t there. It was a half decent squad trying to be professional and rally, but ultimately the heart and extra mile was absent.
March began in dire fashion. Carlisle
turned around a BWP opener
to run out comfortable 3-1 winners at The Valley, with the team rightly subjected to a chorus of boos at the final whistle. The home form struggled to improve, a nothing 1-1 draw with Tranmere
and a last minute Leon Legge winner for Brentford
was sandwiched by a 2-0 defeat at MK Dons where the Addicks registered just 31% possession.
However, the following game was to provide the ultimate low to the season. Just 10 years ago Charlton were an established Premiership club, while Dagenham
were hovering in the Ryman Premier, and now not only were we competing on an even footing, they were making us look the lesser team. The Daggers 2-1 victory proved the breaking point for some supporters, who ensured the players and management, received both barrels of abuse leaving the pitch and in the car park afterwards.Powell
said after the game “I think confidence is a fragile thing and obviously it’s a mental thing now. With supporters voicing their opinions – which is fine – then they have to cope with that. Listen, they can voice their opinions. It was tough hearing it, but they are going to voice their opinions all the time, whether we win lose or draw. They are entitled to that. I am disappointed. I was part of the era when things were great and we built the club from where it was. I know how they are feeling, they are hurting. We want them to back us and we want them to know that we care’
Powell was saying the right things, but people had simply had enough. The steady decline over the last few seasons had been largely taken on the chin on the acceptance of ‘that’s football’. But the latest free-fall of seven defeats and one draw was pushing some close to the edge. There has to be an acceptance when committing to follow a football club that there will be lows as well as highs, but the imbalanced level of lows,
that seemed at this point to be never ending, was leading people to question just exactly they were still getting out of this relationship ?
If the hiring of Powell was an act of trying to unify the club and supporters and getting us on a upward footing once again, then it was being tested to its maximum. In hindsight, the board deserve a huge degree of admiration for the way they remained patient and kept faith in
their man, not just through the summer rebuild, but through this very testing period when there were serious concerns that the amount of ST renewals for the following season was going to plummet through the
Things marginally improved. A rallying performance against Southampton
earned a draw with another BWP strike, his 7th for the Addicks and 20th of the season, and would undoubtedly have resulted in a victory against any other club in the division at this time. The away trip to Bournemouth
saw most of the travelling 1,400 supporters adopt a ‘win or lose, on the booze’ approach, ironically resulting in another draw thanks to another late BWP leveller and some brilliant last-ditch keeping by Robbie Elliot
If it was felt the side had turned a marginally corner, then it quickly
evaporated as the month ended with the rearranged midweek trip to Rochdale bringing a return to disappointing defeats and a long miserable journey home for the die-hards who made the trip.
Elsewhere in March, Middle East and African uprisings
were spreading throughout the region, with protests continuing in Iran, Jordan, Libya and Oman, Algeria, Tunisia and Yemen.
But it was on the 11th March where the whole world stopped to observe the catastrophic events occurring in Japan.
An earthquake off the coast of Tohuko triggered a tsunami
that created waves over 130ft high, destroying towns, villages and triggering a number of nuclear incidents in its wake. 16,000 deaths were reported in the aftermath, as well as over 125,000 buildings destroyed, and the footage captured on camcorders and mobile phones were arguably the most shocking and unbelievable natural phenomenon footage ever captured. The estimated economic cost of the damage was US$235bn, the most expensive natural disaster in history.
On a lighter note, the standout football news in March was the $560 fine and two-match ban handed to Columbian footballer Luis Moreno
, after his club Deportivo Pereira played away to Junior de Barranquilla. Junior’s unofficial mascot, an owl, flew onto the field during the game and was hit by a pass. After the owl was floored, Moreno ran over and booted the struggling owl 10 feet off the pitch. The owl later died due to stress caused by the incident, and Moreno has been subjected to continued threats from outraged Junior supporters since.
Whether tales of the incident spread throughout the bird community i don’t know, but it’s worth noting that the Covered End pigeon hasn’t been spotted since....