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NEW ARTICLE: Charlton Athletic 2018/19 Review - MIDFIELDERS (2/2)

Midfielders - Part Two

One of the most talented players in the division, Joe Aribo continues to also be one of the most sought after young English players. According to the Charlton Life Statbank, Joe produced the 4 of the top 5 individual performances of the season. Showing his ability to dominate games with his incredible skill and quality to drift and drive past opponents as if they aren’t even there.

Aribo’s finishing has improved massively as the season went on, scoring 10 goals from midfield, a very decent return for a 22 year-old. Interestingly, the goals came in patches with 4 in his last 6 games, including the Play-Offs, and 3 in 5 in November through to December. Prior to that, Joe had a slow start in front of goal with only 2 in his first 14, both coming away at Scunthorpe United. In late December Aribo suffered a knee injury, which although happened to be a blessing in disguise as it meant we managed to keep hold of him in January, we missed Aribo dearly. As seemed to be a theme with injuries, Joe, like Bauer and Pearce, missed 9 games out injured but this time we only picked up 12 points without Aribo.

There is a trait within his game which doesn’t get spoken of too much but is a wonderful sight, and it wouldn’t be a normal game without the long legs of Aribo wrapping around an opponent and winning the ball in a way you would never believe unless you saw it. Something that helped us enormously to hurt teams in transition. Overall, Aribo was very unlucky not to have made the top 3 for Player Of The Year, but his great spell in front of goal maybe came just a little too late for the voting.

Wherever he is playing his football next season, he is destined for great things in the game. A level headed young lad who just wants to enjoy the game he loves. If we have seen the last of Aribo in the famous red of Charlton, it has been a pleasure to see such an improvement in himself and the team.

After a slow start to the season with injury, Tariqe Fosu came back against Southend United in September, only to find himself back on the sidelines after being sent off for his part in a fight at the end of the game. A player who often flatters to deceive, it was only in 2018 which Fosu can say he made any real notable contribution to our season. A penalty handed to him by Taylor to open the scoring away at Luton Town was later followed up in December with a sensational strike against Gillingham at The Valley. For a couple of months, in November and December, we saw performances which were reminiscent of last season, skilfully terrorising defenders in dangerous areas and assisting 4 goals in 9 games.

However, his attitude and work rate changed in 2019 as Fosu only started 4 games, his last against Burton Albion on 12th March. Bowyer was quoted, “If I don’t see you working hard, don’t see you put a shift in, don’t see you playing for the team, then you’re not going be involved. We haven’t got this far this season being a team of individuals. We got this far because we are a team. Everybody works hard for everybody. That’s what it boils down to”. What happens next for Fosu is yet to be found out, but it would be wise for him to find a new club to reignite his career and get back to the level we saw in the 2017/18 season.

One of the handful of players who is being released at the end of June, Ben Reeves. A season of inconsistency started with one of the problems attached to his reputation, Reeves was injured. Having missed the opening 6 league games, it wouldn’t be until Bradford City away when he made his first start of the season. From there he went on to start 7 of the next 9, until you guessed it, Ben picked up another minor injury.

An intriguing statistic of the season is that Reeves played more than 80 minutes on 8 separate occasions for us, you can now begin to unfortunately see why he has been let go. However, of his 4 league goals, they were all scored when he had played in those games, almost as if the goals gave him an extra boost, a second wind if you prefer, something that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. But some of those goals were crucial, the equaliser against Southend United, and the winner against Burton Albion, both being scored with Reeves’ head. Not something you would associate with the 5ft 7 midfielder who was previously known to score goals from outside the box. In between those goals, Ben added another vital contribution. Coming off the bench at half time against Portsmouth, Reeves would provide the flicked assist onto Taylor to score the winner, the goal which firmly set us on our way to the strong end of season run that we had. 

Reeves shouldn’t be judged solely on his contribution in front of goal though. There were some exceptional cameos throughout the season such as Portsmouth and Accrington Stanley at home. Having played in a more withdrawn role on the right of the diamond, Ben also provided the team with some excellent defensive duties and awareness, especially helping out Dijksteel at right-back when required. His future may be elsewhere but he gave his all for the cause and that is all that can be asked of him. 

As already mentioned in previous reviews, the season seemed to work in some strange ways, going in full cycle or happening just at the right time and it was no different for Jonny Williams. Making his first appearance for the club, and a huge difference to the side by coming off the bench against his old loan club, Sunderland. The trick was performed again only four and half months later in what looks likely to be his last appearance for us, the Play-Off Final. Brought in to replace to outgoing Jamie Ward, Jonny came in with excellent pedigree and bundles of skill and quality. He has had a very unfortunate time with injuries in the past and it may surprise a few that he started 14 league games for us out of a possible 20, two further appearances were made from the bench. Not bad at all for a player who will struggle to shrug that tag off his back.

Williams’ next club may be away from us with Bowyer stating, “We probably need a bit of luck and hope no-one offers him too much!”, but with the Welsh international loving life at Charlton with a manager who Williams says, ‘did wonders for him’, there is a chance we may actually see him back next season. “He told me I was a good player. When you get a manager telling you that – and he has played the game at the top, top level – then you think ‘blimey, I must be doing something right. He knows my position. It is only going to help me as a player”. Of course, there are areas to improve, areas already identified by Bowyer and Williams. His lack of goals or assists caused concern for some Charlton supporters with only 1 official assist given to him, away at Plymouth Argyle, but he was unlucky not to have more. Jonny created numerous chances but for poor finishing, or players get in the way of goal bound effort, the statistics doesn’t look too favourable.

On the whole, Williams is most certainly a very likeable character and added a quality to the team which was far too good for League One. I had a brief interaction with Jonny on the way back from watching The FA Cup Final where he told me he was due to be next up in the penalty shoot-out against Doncaster Rovers in the Play-Offs. He told me how he was so excited for the final as he hoped to continue his 100% record of winning at Wembley. As it turned out, it was Williams entering the Wembley pitch that swung the game back into our ascendency. A player like him doesn’t come around too often and if there is a chance for Williams to come back, it should be high on the list of priorities for the summer.

Other mentions must go out to:

Jamie Ward - Played a total of 500 minutes which came in 9 games. Ward's loan spell wasn't too successful but you could see the quality had, his sublime assist for Grant’s first goal against Barnsley and his well taken lob against Bristol Rovers being two standout examples. However, it was Ward's age and injuries that meant we didn't manage to see that enough. We did however, win 5 of the 6 games that he started for us. But in January, Williams was brought in to replace him as he went back to his parent club, Nottingham Forest. 

Mark Marshall - Statistically, his time with us doesn't look good. Marshall only played 7 games which were more than or equal to 45 minutes for us last season. 24 of our league games he didn’t manage to get on the pitch, including 13 times being left out the squad completely. To his credit, Marshall never failed to put in the effort, he did score our second in the 2-0 win against AFC Wimbledon and he did provide an assist against Southend United for Reeves to equalise. Unfortunately, it seems like we signed Marshall at the decline of his career, but as player who continued to graft despite his lack of minutes he must be respected. 

Albie Morgan - Incredibly Albie was only involved in 8 league games for us and they all came in patches. At the beginning of the season he came off the bench against Shrewsbury Town before making his first full debut against Peterborough United, both at home. It wouldn’t be until New Years Day against Walsall where Morgan featured for us again before starting the next two league games, including a great 60 minutes against Sunderland. A long spell out the side through injury and other players becoming back available followed, but Morgan continued to improve and started in our two final home games of the regulation season. Morgan has shown to have fantastic technique, be comfortable in possession, and a range of passing and vision that can hurt teams. However, he will need to improve on the fitness and physical side, and aim to play regularly out on loan next season. Overall, Albie has done really well when involved and is definitely one for the future. 

Jake Forster-Caskey - A season which promised so much was disastrously ruined on the eve of the opening game by a terrible anterior cruciate ligament injury of his right knee. A gruelling 37 weeks of recovery and intensive physiotherapy and conditioning followed before Jake made his first appearance of the season at home to Scunthorpe United, coming off the bench and playing 11 minutes. It’s a big season coming up for Forster-Caskey, where at 25 years old, he will want to prove he is of Championship standard. I have no doubt he will do just that. 

Full Series:








  • Really enjoying the reviews Sage well done 😊
  • RichyB said:
    Really enjoying the reviews Sage well done 😊
    Couldn’t agree more.  I think Marshall carried himself with dignity, whereas Fosu seemed to just not bother once he fell out the team.

    Morgan looks a real prospect for next season, but we’re gonna need to sign 4/5 in the midfield at least I think 
  • cabbles said:
    RichyB said:
    Really enjoying the reviews Sage well done 😊
    Couldn’t agree more.  I think Marshall carried himself with dignity, whereas Fosu seemed to just not bother once he fell out the team.

    Morgan looks a real prospect for next season, but we’re gonna need to sign 4/5 in the midfield at least I think 
    Thanks both.

    I only done a bigger section on Fosu in comparison to Marshall and Morgan because he actually featured far more than they both did, especially from the start. Just in 2019 he rarely decided to make an effort.

    Definitely need to sign a good few midfielders that is for sure.
  • edited June 2019
    Really good analysis @Sage.

    Reeves was the only name of those released that surprised me although now you have explained his fitness / injury record maybe it was not as big a shock as I initially thought  
  • Great stuff again Sage.
  • To repeat the above.
    Excellent analysis Sage.
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