If there is to be any solace taken from the events of Tuesday night, it is that it surely cannot get any worse.
For when Brentford visit The Valley on Saturday, they will surely not face the side that Preston North End did. The side lacking any sort of cohesion, quality and determination. The side unwilling to fight, show character and overcome adversity. The side that had seemingly given up from the first minute, and were accused of not being fit enough to wear the shirt.
So too will the Bees surely face a side led by a head coach whose decision making will not be as desperately poor. With players returning from injury and suspension, Guy Luzon’s excuses, used through this nine game winless run, are minimal.
And surely Lee Carsley’s side will play under a Valley atmosphere less poisonous than the one that left you completely disillusioned and depressed with the state of Charlton Athletic. Even if this weekend is to be a repeat of what occurred in the week, it is almost expected, and will surely be a touch more bearable.
Surely it won’t get any worse. Surely?
LAST MEETING – CHARLTON ATHLETIC 3-0 BRENTFORD
In a similar scenario, with the Addicks winless in 14 and a venomous atmosphere during a Tuesday night defeat to Norwich preceding it, Charlton delivered a superb display of counter-attacking football to beat the Bees in February.
Guy Luzon’s side took the lead midway through the first half, when Igor Vetokele teed up Johann Berg Gudmundsson to finish coolly from a tight angle.
While Brentford, who came into the game on the back of learning Mark Warburton would not be their boss come the end of the season, were constantly pushed forward by Alex Pritchard, they ran into dead ends each time. The game seemingly over when Vetokele, having received an unselfish pass from Tony Watt, doubled Charlton’s ten minutes after the break.
And an impressive performance and deserved victory was wrapped up in stoppage-time, when the revitalised Frederic Bulot broke through on goal and struck beyond the desperate dive of former Addick David Button.
A repeat on Saturday would be most welcome.
The Bees themselves, having finished in the top six last season, have been in a state of relative crisis this campaign.
For the decision by owner Matthew Benham to remodel the club on a statistical ideology, and depart with Warburton, has seemingly backfired. Recruitment, with those that have arrived from Europe largely failing to impress, questionable, the loss of key players, particularly Andre Gray to Burnely, a huge hindrance, and results, so poor that head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen did not reach October, leaving the Bees looking over their shoulder.
But, under Carsley, a foundation for recovery has been laid in the past week, with victories over Rotherham and Wolves, the latter particularly impressive, providing confidence and points.
Some sort of form hit just in time to play the division’s current strugglers.
Nine winless games, many of which have been gutless and pathetic, leaving the Addicks in the bottom three. A head coach whose decision making has grown more and more questionable with each passing week. An ownership and club structure that can once again be accused of failing.
Whether you’re angry with the performance of a side who have shown little effort and managed just two shots on target in 180 minutes of football, apathetic towards a football club that is seemingly do it all it can to lose a connection with its supporters, or depressed by the entire situation and desperate for a quick turnaround, there’s no denying it’s all a bit bleak in SE7.
And should Charlton follow up the defeats to Reading and Preston with another disastrous performances, then the calls for change will only grow.
The problem is the way the club is run, but it does not prevent pressure being applied to the troubled head coach. The suggestion that Luzon has lost the dressing room needs to be challenged or Saturday, or he many not get another chance to do so.
Despite both playing in a development victory over Crystal Palace on Monday, Sam Saunders and Lewis McLeod are unlikely to be named in the squad to face Charlton on Saturday.
The pair, who are beginning to regain full fitness after lengthy spells out through injury, will not be rushed back in case of any recurrence.
And with long-term absentees Jota, Josh McEachran and Andreas Bjelland still out, the Bees could name the same side that impressively beat Wolves on Wednesday.
Charlton’s chances of recording a victory which looks incredibly unlikely are increased by key players returning in both defence and attack.
Patrick Bauer, having been suspended on Tuesday, will need to inject discipline and organisation into a shambolic backline, while Gudmundsson, after recovering from a dead leg, is available to provide some degree of attacking spark to a side lacking any sort of creativity and confidence.
But Naby Sarr, offering little resilience when called upon this season, will again have to start at centre-back. A fifth yellow card of the season for Alou Diarra in midweek means the Frenchman will sit out the Brentford clash through suspension.
And there remains doubt over whether other key players will be fit enough to start on Saturday. Stephen Henderson, having played for the U21s on Monday, is surely close to a return, and Johnnie Jackson should come in ahead of the hopeless El-Hadji Ba, but Simon Makienok, who made some sort of impression off the bench on Tuesday, isn’t yet ready to play a full 90 minutes
Additionally, Ahmed Kashi, Vetokele and Cristian Ceballos remain absent.
KEY BATTLE: OVERCOMING ADVERSITY
The comeback victories over Cardiff City and Bolton Wanderers. The unlikely victory against Brighton and Hove Albion. That Jackson winner against QPR.
In the past, Charlton have emphatically triumphed during times of adversity. They have showed character and fight when it has been needed most, and managed to play some outstanding football and create unforgettable moments.
And The Valley crowd has got behind them, knowing that such moments are possible. It’s why the sight of Jackson coming on against Fulham three weeks ago created optimism, only extended by his immediate goal. A connection existing between those that give their all for the Addicks, and an understanding that they will give their all.
But that is not true of this current Charlton side, and boss. The evidence during this nine game winless run is that they melt under any sort of pressure, and they have no desire to attempt to overcome testing situations.
As such, while a side of the past would have been given support and inspiration from the Covered End, this current crop will need to earn it on Saturday. They will need to show us hurting supporters that they can overcome adversity, and will not simply give up if the situation becomes tougher.
Brentford, particularly on the back of their two victories in the past week, are not a bad side. David Button an excellent goalkeeper, Alan Judge has been in terrific form, and European additions Marco Djuricin and Phillipp Hofmann scoring in midweek is promising.
But Charlton’s biggest battle is not with the opposition. It is with themselves.
Surely this can’t get any worse? It wouldn’t surprise me. Apathy and anger from minute one, until minute 90+4. Charlton Athletic 0-2 Brentford