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Inside FutbolInside Futbol


Charlton Can Benefit from Handing Chris Powell Chance

Ask most people in football about Chris Powell, and they will tell you he is one of the nicest guys in the game. Ask anyone at Charlton Athletic, and they will say he is a living legend.

When great players of the past come back to manage a club, supporters find themselves desperately hoping they never have to criticise their hero, and Addicks fans will be in that category right now.

Christopher George Robin Powell began his career with, whisper it, Crystal Palace, but has since gone on to become a Charlton favourite, playing well over 200 games for the club and gaining five England caps along the way. A pacy left back, his niceness was evident when, after tackling a flying winger, he would pick him up off the floor while cartoon bluebirds fluttered around him, chirping the opening bars of ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’.

Bizarrely, one of the first press questions Powell had to answer after becoming boss was ‘are you too nice to be a success?’. He gave a good answer, pointing out that anyone who has been in the game for over twenty years has to have the drive to succeed. The new Charlton manager didn’t go into further detail, but the implication is that he may have been a little unpleasant once in a while.

Charlton Athletic are one of those clubs with a genuine sense of community and they tend to stay loyal to their own, so perhaps Powell is a natural choice as manager. During a playing career that saw the left back put his boots on for more than 650 matches, the 41-year-old is sure to have picked up plenty of good advice along the way. If this season sees Charlton win promotion to The Championship, the Addicks faithful may well have witnessed the birth of an excellent managerial career.

Powell has made an encouraging start to his tenure, with a draw at Sheffield Wednesday and three impressive wins in his first few games. Now nestling very nicely in the promotion playoff places, Charlton have games in hand on all their rivals, and if the feel-good factor that has accompanied the new manager’s arrival continues, the rest of the division’s front runners had better start looking over their shoulders.

Heading into the business end of the season, those at the top of League One have somewhere around 18 games to go and a strong run from now until May is likely to bring the ultimate prize for any two of them. The teams in contention include some former Premier League clubs such as Charlton, Southampton and Oldham, and some less fashionable, but equally good, sides such as Brighton, Bournemouth and Huddersfield.

While the south London club are there or thereabouts at the moment, they have a worryingly low goal difference compared to their rivals. At the moment, Charlton’s is plus eight, while Brighton’s is plus 27. Chris Powell, having instilled some confidence into the side in a few weeks, will need to instil some goals, too. His recent acquisition of Bradley Wright-Phillips was therefore an encouraging one.

The pint-sized striker has scored two crucial match-winning goals already, and is rightly known for his eye for goals. Charlton’s top scorer this season, midfielder Johnnie Jackson, has twelve league goals this season, and will no doubt welcome a little competition from little Shaun Wright-Phillip’s younger half-brother.

Time will tell if their new manager is to be a prolonged success in the hot seat at Charlton, but the early signs are encouraging. Powell, nicer than a long lie-in on a Bank Holiday Monday, may prove to be the most inspired managerial appointment since the Old Trafford board in 1986 said ‘let’s give this Scottish chap a go, shall we?’.


Published: Thursday, 10th Feb 2011