Charlton Athletic close to securing a League One playoff spot
As the season draws to its end, League One leaves one fixture remaining. On Saturday the 5th of May 2018, the fate of many sides are still to be decided. Charlton Athletic still don't know whether they will make the playoffs or miss out.
The Addicks are currently on 71 points holding onto the final playoff place. With one game left they are three points ahead of Plymouth Argyle. If the Pilgrims fail to beat Gillingham then Charlton are guaranteed the last playoff spot. Charlton play Rochdale which won't be easy as the Dale are fighting for survival. They are just one point inside the relegation zone meaning their final game will probably be a scrappy one. Even if Plymouth win and Charlton lose this weekend it is highly likely that Lee Bowyer's side will hold onto the last playoff place as they are currently on six better goal difference than Plymouth. It would be a real kick in the teeth though if Plymouth win by four goals and Charlton lose by three.
Current form shows some positives though from Charlton's point-of-view. Three consecutive wins against Shrewsbury, Portsmouth and Blackburn really shows the magnitude of quality they have produced in recent times. Plymouth last lost to Scunthorpe who have already claimed their playoff place but the Pilgrims beat Rotherham who are also qualified for playoffs. So it will be interesting to see which Plymouth side turns up on Saturday.
The Addicks can also still claim fifth place which could be an easier playoff fixture if they can create that outcome for themselves. Two points behind Scunthorpe who will play 11th placed Bradford will certainly be another game listened to on the radio at the Spotland Stadium. The travelling support should be out in numbers for the fate of their club and Charlton Athletic have potential to regain their club's status to previous levels.
With two years away from the Championship could Charlton be able to fix the problems from their recent past? Current caretaker manager Lee Bowyer believes the squad has what it takes to go all the way if they secure their playoff place. Players such as Josh Magennis and Fosu Tarique have produced goals aplenty throughout the season and will be needed to thrive during the final game. They also have on their side Ben Amos in goal, Jake Forster-Caskey, Billy Clarke, Nicky Ajose and many others to name a few. A side that produces in many areas of the field has proven to be very positive overall.
Even in League One since their recent years spent in the Premier League and the Championship the regular attendance this season averages around 11,000. The highest attendance was against Shrewsbury in February with over 17,500 fans in attendance. The second-best was in their last fixture against Blackburn Rovers during their 1-0 win at the Valley. The attendance was calculated at 17,310. So they are capable of bringing a good turn-out when possible.
Although, holding 27,000 shows many fans are still not turning up. This is down to the owner, Roland Duchatelet. One main reason fans are unhappy is that he sacked Chris Powell who was doing a great job as Charlton manager. Also, his idea of selling Yann Kermogant seemed to be high a priority looking like he was more interested in money. He sold Joe Gomez and other key players in the same month he arrived and brought in Belgian players with no clue of the English Football League.
Even with Charlton now in a good position, fans of the club are still protesting, however, the news of Dutchatelet impending exit is the best news in a long time. They will just hope for new owners with a clearer and more honest plan for the club. Addicks fans will be hoping to achieve a positive change at the club as a stand against somebody who hasn't been clear on their objective and not been faithful to loyal supporters. Fans want a passionate owner who loves the club and not just see it as a possibility to make money.
Although their fate will be decided on the final day due to mathematical possibilities we realistically believe Charlton shouldn't have a problem with at least sealing the last playoff place. Lee Bowyer's first managerial role as caretaker could lead him to a permanent position if successful. It would be a dream come true for the ex-midfielder who started at the very same club during his professional career back in 1994 to help the very same side to promotion. Now that would be a story to tell wouldn't it?