“At least we’re not Blackpool.”
It’s a comment that’s been said many a time this season, by clubs struggling on-the-pitch and by those with question marks over the way they are run off it.
And while I don’t agree with downplaying the serious issues that remain over the way Charlton are run, the sentiment of the comments remains. Bloody hell, thank god we’re not them.
For not only are the Tangerines hurtling towards League One at a pace that would be impressive if it were not depressing, Karl Oyston’s bizarre running of the club has left it completely on its knees.
The best efforts this season from anyone connected to Blackpool coming from the supporters, whose continued protests and valiant attempts to support the side regardless deserve plenty of praise.
However, my sympathy will be minimal if not absent when the Addicks travel to Bloomfield Road on Tuesday.
It’s a game that provides Guy Luzon’s side with a wonderful opportunity to bounce back from their self-inflicted weekend defeat to Blackburn Rovers. In fact, you could make argue to say this is the perfect fixture in the circumstances; one that will prevent the possibility of a winless run.
Nonetheless, Charlton, who failed to beat Lee Clark’s makeshift group in December, cannot afford to be complacent. A dominant and professional victory the minimum expected.
LAST MEETING – CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2-2 BLACKPOOL
At a time when it appeared Charlton could not buy a win, a last minute Steven Davies equaliser reaffirmed those beliefs.
Chris Eagles, now an Addick, opened the scoring for Blackpool midway through the first half, bundling the ball into an empty net after Nick Pope had misjudged the flight of a corner and Nyron Nosworthy headed on.
But Charlton were given the opportunity to equalise before the break when Igor Vetokele was tripped inside the box. Yoni Buyens made no mistake, converting coolly to draw his side level.
And ten minutes into the second half, Bob Peeters’ men were ahead. The Tangerine’s defence stood off Jordan Cousins, and the youngster finished superbly from the edge of the box.
The Addicks, however, never looked comfortable, and as full-time approached, Davies capitalised on some woeful marking and more rash goalkeeping from Pope to steal a point for Blackpool.
With his side a mammoth 18 points from safety, without a win since January, and routinely suffering heavy, if not embarrassing, defeats, it’s no wonder Clark has given up hopes of his side avoiding relegation to the third tier of English football.
For things, almost incredibly so, may have even got a little worse on the pitch in recent weeks. Flightless drummings to the division’s top sides, such as the 4-0 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday, has left supporters, players and Clark himself incredibly demoralised.
“To keep coming to these teams at the top of the table and being lambs to the slaughter is not acceptable. We’re going down by a massive margin,” the Blackpool boss told the Blackpool Gazette after that loss at the Goldsands.
Having seemingly been in unstoppable form, the Addicks were a little disappointing in their defeat to Blackburn on Saturday.
Luzon’s side were without the high tempo they had shown in recent weeks, and were hugely let down by individual errors at both ends of the pitch.
For Roger Johnson’s errors for both goals were shocking, especially from a man who has been at the heart of Charlton’s upturn in form, and Tony Watt and Igor Vetokele might well have done better in front of goal.
However, with the season now over for the Addicks, anger is minimal. That’s not to say that will also be the case should they suffer defeat at Bloomfield Road.
Blackpool will welcome back Miles Addison after the Bournemouth loanee was unable to play against his parent club at the weekend.
But they will be without Tony McMahon, who begins a two game suspension after picking up his tenth yellow card of the season on Saturday, and the injured Jamie O’Hara.
Charlton could make some changes in defence after the entire back four struggled in Saturday’s defeat to Blackburn.
One of Tal Ben Haim or Johnson will surely miss out, with Joe Gomez coming back into the side, while Chris Solly, who missed his side’s most recent midweek clash with Nottingham Forest, may be given the chance to rest his troublesome knee, with Lawrie Wilson possibly coming in.
The Addicks, however, will definitely be without Rhoys Wiggins, Johnnie Jackson and Franck Moussa, who all remain a few weeks away from fitness.
KEY BATTLE – PLAYING WITH TEMPO ON THE BLOOMFIELD ROAD BOG
While Blackpool’s woes away from home have regularly been embarrassing in their nature this season, the Tangerines have kept some dignity in defeat at Bloomfield Road.
Incredibly, only four times this campaign have they suffered a loss by two or more goals at home, and three of those have come against the division’s current top seven.
One reason for that must surely come down to the state of Blackpool’s pitch. Somewhat hypocritical to bemoan, given the nature of Charlton’s playing surface last season, but the Bloomfield Road turf is currently making the pitches I see on a Sunday morning when I referee youth football seem attractive.
And although Luzon has implemented a somewhat direct approach since becoming Charlton boss, it’s a direct approach that relies heavily upon the pace and trickery of his widemen and forwards.
It therefore might prove tricky for the likes of Watt and Johann Berg Gudmundsson to play to their game-changing best. However, overcome the pitch difficulties, and Charlton should have no worries with dealing with what a scrambled together Blackpool side can throw at them.
A pleasing response to Saturday’s disappointment, with the Addicks, regardless of the tough conditions they will have to play in given the state of Blackpool’s pitch, finding their excellent counter-attacking tempo once again. Blackpool 0-3 Charlton Athletic