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NEW ARTICLE: The TEN REASONS Charlton won the League - Part 2

Part 1 HERE looked at the first three parts in why Charlton won the league:
1. Board were clear they were backing their man
2. Summer captures were made early and the signing policy correct
3. A successful team was also formed off the pitch

Part 2 below looks at reasons 4-6:

4. Opening Day victory against favourable opponents

Against a backdrop of a dire previous season, and wholesale changes at the Club during the summer, getting off to a decent start to the season was absolutely crucial. Team spirit, belief and the backing of the supporters was still very much fragile, and nothing brings these pieces closer together than points on the board.

If Charlton could have cherry-picked an opening fixture, AFC Bournemouth most probably would have been it. Having lost their impressive manager Eddie Howe earlier in 2011, the club were clearly going through a similar transition to Charlton, but in the opposite direction. Whilst the Addicks were actively strengthening for the campaign ahead, Bournemouth was experiencing the reverse, with a number of their key players leaving the club. Two of those, captain Danny Hollands and Rhoys Wiggins were integral parts of the recruitment drive at The Valley.

As a club, they clearly were not ready for the start of the campaign, and if this wasn’t enough to unsettle them, a torturous nine-hour trip on the M25 to The Valley on the Friday proved disastrous preparation.

Charlton gave debuts to seven players in the season opener, and a comfortable 3-0 victory was just what was needed to provide a much-needed positive starting block to the season. We were on our way.

5. The back four provided a brilliant base, and delivered points at a spell when goals were hard to come by.

Many new units were forged throughout the season across the team, but nowhere was it seen more successfully than across the back four. Goals they say win you promotions, but it is defences that win you titles. Charlton conceded just 36 goals across the 46 league games, with only Swindon (32) conceding less in the Football League. In the key period between January to the beginning of March, just four goals were conceded in eleven games, securing 27 points out of a possible 33 at a time when strikers were struggling for goals. Seven of those eleven games saw us score only a solitary goal.

At the heart of it were two centre halves, Taylor and Morrison, who seemed to fit as a partnership right from Day One. Taylor was looking to make the most of what was his biggest move as a pro, while the younger Morrison was striving to establish himself after a stuttering start to his career. Both had opposite reasons to make their move to Charlton successful, but they were going to go about it in a similar way; With full commitment and as a cohesive partnership.

As the season progressed, Morrison began to put in the more noticeable performances, but for much of the season the two could not separated, as shown by the almost identical marks received in the Charlton Life Statbank. When the manager felt the partnership needed freshening up, Taylor made way for Leon Cort, who equally impressed in the run-in.

If the centre half combinations provided the structural base to the side, it was on either side of them that were Charlton’s arguably strongest assets.
Quite simply, in Solly and Wiggins we had the two best full-backs in the division.

Wiggins at first took a few games to settle into his new team, but from then there was no stopping him as his energetic, overlapping wing play and quality delivery provided an extra dimension to our attacking play, whilst remaining solid in defence. A niggling injury impacted his game in the run in, but Wiggins had proved a vital asset to the team.

Solly though, was one of the two standout consistent performers throughout the season. In the opening phase of the season, the right back area was clearly targeted by the opposition as a perceived weakness of the side. But this was soon dropped as teams discovered this small but tenacious youngster, electric over the first five yards, was anything but a weakness.

As the season progressed, so did Solly’s confidence with the ball at his feet. Opponents were being shown a clean pair of heels, and his attacking play, both in overlapping and in cutting inside with a surging run to play into a striker’s feet, had come on leaps and bounds.

Seeing the popular, unassuming ex-academy grow as a player was one of the supporter highlights of the season.

6. The signing of Yann Kermorgant

The manager had a big decision on his hands. Charlton had made an excellent start to the season, and the front pairing of Bradley Wright Phillips and Paul Hayes had been working relatively well, scoring nine goals in the opening nine games (BWP 6, PH 3).

But as the end of September approached, Chris Powell saw an opportunity to potentially improve the side. It was a risk of huge proportions, but ultimately it was one of the key reasons why Charlton went on to win the league.

Yann Kermorgant football career had been on an interesting journey. The 30-year old Frenchman had beaten leukaemia as a teenager, and spent the bulk of his career not pulling up trees in the French leagues, before securing a contract with Leicester in 2009 after a successful trial. It was there as a coach Chris Powell saw the ability that the Frenchman possessed, though noting that he struggled to fit in with Leicester life, and with the rest of their squad. He scored just one goal in twenty appearances for Leicester, before bringing his spell there to an abrupt close with a failed audacious penalty chip in the play-off semi final vs Cardiff.

Kermorgant was quickly labelled the fall guy by the Leicester fans, and was shipped out on loan that summer back to France, where again he failed to impress scoring just three goals in 26 appearances for Arles-Avignon in 10/11. He returned to Leicester that summer to find himself without a club.

In September 2011, Chris Powell was once again impressed by Kermorgant in a trial at Sparrows Lane. He knew the player had ability but had a number of considerations to ponder. The squad was working well because it was a tight unit on and off the pitch, would the introduction of a quiet, distant Frenchman impact on the good vibe that had been building? Had Paul Hayes really been poor enough to replace in the starting eleven? Would Yann settle in London, and more importantly make the effort to fit in with his new team mates?

continued below...



  • Powell took the risk, and immediately saw dividends. Kermorgant entered the fray in the 80th minute of the home victory to Chesterfield, and instantly showed everyone in the bumper 22k+ crowd the ability he had to offer, showing real quality to supply Scott Wagstaff in the build-up to BWP’s goal with two minutes to go. Yann again had an impact as a substitute three days later, netting the equaliser away to MK Dons, and repeated the feat off the bench in the next game away to Sheffield United where Charlton put down a real marker to the rest of the division with a sound victory. Yann’s emergence was positively changing games from the bench, and he was brought into the starting eleven in the next game. He remained a permanent fixture for the rest of the season.

    Yann grew into a talismanic leader of the line for Charlton. A strong, committed, consistent performer with attitude, the type of player we’ve not seen at The Valley for many years.

    Due to his supreme aerial ability, he was at first being used mainly as a high outlet ball from defence, but as the season progressed he was used increasingly as a second striker playmaker. Throughout the season he was commitment personified, smashing into defenders, making their lives uncomfortable and more often than not winding up opponents. It was these qualities, as much as his ability with his head and his feet that won the hearts of supporters.

    Yann finished the season with twelve goals in thirty six appearances, but his contribution to the successful season went far further than simply his goals.
  • Love that man, even if he does roll about on the floor a lot when clobbered.....
  • Very enjoyable read, thank you.
  • Great stuff AFKA ... and all so true about Yann ... what a player and will become a Charlton legend one day
  • edited May 2012
    Well worth the wait : - )

  • Great stuff AFKA ... and all so true about Yann ... what a player and will become a Charlton legend one day
    IMHO I think he already is!
  • Agree re Kermy, but was Hayes 'producing' goals too?
  • When you say it all in writing, the awesomeness of the defence, how brilliant Solly has been, the one man battering ram that Yann has been it really makes me appreciate what a great season we've had.

    Great stuff Smudge.
  • One thing, the back four have been great, but the keeper behind them has had as much influence on it as the outfield players.
  • One thing, the back four have been great, but the keeper behind them has had as much influence on it as the outfield players.
    True, going unbeaten with Elliot in goal really set the season up. In the CL player stats Robbie is the keeper with the highest ratings

    : - )

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  • Good read, AFKA.

    What I love about Yann is how quiet, meek and mild he is off the pitch, then he turns into this aggressive wind-up merchant on it! It's a bit like me in the crowd, really!!
  • Great stuff AFKA.
  • Super read.
  • Brings back memories of the opener against Bournemouth and seeing for the first time all the new faces and wondering if just one of them would be half decent!
  • I'd like to add my thanks AFKA. Well written article.
  • ... and wondering if just one of them would be half decent!
    Yup, amazing that they all gelled so well together ...we'd have been happy with one or two !
  • Thanks AFKA another well written piece....looking forward to the final piece
  • Was discussing with my missus , whether this was my favourite season for watching Charlton, sure there have been bigger memories, Wembley 98 , Blackburn away in the FA cup etc etc, im sure we've all got our own personal memories.. But reading and being reminded about this season and it's twists and turns and successes , I've really really enjoyed it, we've played some super stuff, showed some real bottle, this season was beyond my wildest dreams, it's nice to be the team handing out the beatings for a change, as opposed to being the team getting battered , enjoy the moment
  • That piece about Yann is really well written. Sums him and his impact up perfectly
  • Up until now I'm with you. There's just one thing that concerns me:

    If you're looking at reasons why we won the league (as opposed to got promoted) then 50% of them have to be Yann. So where's the excitement and anticipation in waiting for part 3 when I know it is Yann, Yann, Yann and Yann?

    Nice work, Danny
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  • Very well written and enjoyable read. Question though mention the back four but not the back five? Makes me wonder of the goalie is another "reason" in the top ten?
  • Thanks for the memories.

    Well written AFKA.
  • edited May 2012
    As said above well written AFKA.
  • Great article AFKA. Just imagine if we'd been able to read that this time last year. Excitement through the roof. What a season!!
  • Great article and look forward to the next one. Should 'wholesome' be 'wholesale'?
  • @mendonca @Rothko

    No, the goalie doesn't feature elsewhere, and the point is purely focussed on the back four. This is only my opinion of course, but that unit of the side performed above all others.

    I like Hamer, but I'm not his biggest fan (yet). His distribution is up there with the best I have seen, but I felt he went through a couple of shaky spells through the season, particularly when under pressure.

    I expect him to improve, and the clean sheet record he had this year was tremendous. But I don't think we saw the best of him this season.

    Thanks to others for your nice comments, very kind.
  • Great piece AFKA. Yann - what a man! You put his earlier career in perspective. If he was so relatively unsuccessful with all the talent he clearly possesses, then for Chris to have found the way to unleash it, speaks volumes for his ability to motivate.

    I am inclined to your view on Hamer. With the right development he can only get better.
  • Fair point. Where he has been our mainstay in goal all season and organised the defence pretty well, I consider him as an integral part of our 'defence'. Well, at least a mention of his name. Smiley face (from blackberry).
  • When I try to persuade new fans to join the forum, my main 'selling point' is that there are contributors who know what they are talking about. That's it really, thank you AFKA.
  • Hamer's been fine, but we would probably have been promoted if Elliott had stayed and played instead, whereas I'm not sure the same can be said about last season's defence...
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