Over the last six years there have not been many highlights for Charlton Athletic fans to cheer, that was before the arrival of Chris Powell.
Powell was appointed manager of Charlton in January 2011 after the sacking of Phil Parkinson with the club lingering in League 1.
The previous five years had seen a stable Premier League side lose their long and trusted manager Alan Curbishley, which subsequently resulted in not only relegation to the Championship but to the third tier of English football.
During the turbulence of these dark years, managers had come and gone, Iain Dowie, Les Reed, Alan Pardew and Phil Parkinson, none of which were able to leave any brightness at the club.
The club was a sinking ship, that was until the club had appointed former player and fan favourite Chris Powell as manager. On his arrival he was instantly given the royal treatment with fans finally believing the club was in the right hands – the Messiah was back.
Powell got off to a flier winning his first three games in charge, installing a feel good factor around the Valley once again.
However it wouldn’t have fit in with the Charlton tradition if things were just going to run smoothly and so the side went on a run of 11 games where they were unable to pick up a single victory, resulting in a 13th place finish. A potential play-off push was turned into mid-table mediocrity. Around some sections of fans there were murmurings that maybe Powell wasn’t the right man to take the Addicts back up the football league after all.
During the course of the summer Powell showed his true colours in transforming the club from top to bottom. All the dead wood was removed, 15 players were released as Powell looked to create his own side which saw no fewer than 19 new arrivals for the beginning of the 2011/12 season, which ultimately ended in success.
The signings he delivered were shrewd, young players who had delivered in League 1 the season before and were hungry to do so once again. Normally when a team takes on so many new faces there is always a gelling phase, credit where credit is due and under Chris Powell he created a squad which instantly gelled together as if the team has been playing with each other for years.
The team were playing nicely on the pitch, the fans were flocking back to the Valley as the atmosphere and expectancy levels once again rose. Powell had done what he promised as fans sung, ‘We’ve got our Charlton back.’
To a true football fan it doesn’t matter which league your club is in, especially if you win the league. On the 5th May 2012, the final game of the season, a packed Valley came to see Powell and the rest of the team lift the League 1 trophy.
Powell had returned and conquered becoming a hero once again earning him the nickname ‘Sir Chris.’ From his fist pumping celebrations to his now familiar trademark jump out of the tunnel after a victory, the sight of which fills Charlton fans with joy.
Leading into this season expectancy levels were high. In a much quieter pre-season it was evident that Powell was happy with his squad. Initially I thought this could have been naïve as Charlton were entering a league where they would become a smaller fish in a bigger pond.
The motto ‘In Sir Chris we shall trust’ really should be believed as the former chairman of the PFA, he used his powers to bring in the strength needed for a long season in the likes of Ricardo Fuller.
There is always going to be sections of fans that will never be pleased and would you believe it fans this season have already been claiming it is time for Chris to leave once again.
No one is perfect including Powell, at times he shows tactically he needs to learn as substitutes are left far too late in games, where the incoming player has very little chance to stamp his authority on the match and change a losing position into a match saving one.
The main aim for Charlton this season is surely survival and with 19 games gone the South Londoners are twelve points away from the drop zone and surely only looking up.
For the time being Powell has the Charlton fans on board as ‘Chrissy Powell’s red and white army’ continues to plod on.
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